Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Up and Away

When one loses a top value, how does one cope with that loss? How does one close a chapter in that book and embrace future possibilities? The easy thing to do is hunker down and wallow in the sadness of losing a loved one or the end of a romantic relationship. This is a serious issue in one's life - and one should accord it the appropriate amount of reflection.

I am, of course, no expert on overcoming serious losses. I do not come to the table with ready made solutions or pat answers. I do know from personal experience in the past couple years that that sadness frequently feels like dying inside. Some days it is so all consuming that finding a way out feels impossible. And yet, as an advocate of achieving one's goals and persevering in the face of any and all adversity, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't offer my own reflections on the matter.

In the touching recent Pixar animated film 'Up,' we are presented with an unlikely hero: an elderly gentleman who has lost his beloved wife of several decades. As kids, Carl and Ellie became fast friends because they both shared a passion for a life of grand adventure. This shared value eventually blossomed into a deep and enduring love that spanned many years. As a happily married couple, they planned to make their dreams of travel to the fictitious 'Paradise Falls' a reality by saving their change. Alas, daily life intruded on their plans: a flat tyre, a tree falling on their house, among other minor mishaps that cost them their savings. In the final minutes of the initial sequence of the movie, Carl's cherished Ellie dies, leaving him alone for the first time in a long long time.

Because 'Up,' is an animated film, one can expect whimsy and cheerful action, not a lament of love's loss. We get it in spades. Instead of being carted off to a nursing home, elderly Carl takes to the skies - literally. His sole career in life had been that of a balloon salesman, so he affixes balloons to his house and sets off on an adventure to find Paradise Falls, with a small neighbourhood boy in tow. The house represented for Carl his dear departed Ellie.

Without revealing the entire story, one realises at the end of the movie, after Carl has lived his final great adventure that he didn't need the house at all. His wife Ellie wanted him to go on without her and Carl finally finds her note telling him to do so.

Ordinarily, I do not seek wisdom from animated movies, but in its own gentle way, 'Up' reminds the viewer that to move forward in life, one must discard old baggage. Reflecting upon the past two-and-a-half years of my life, I take this message to heart. In the middle of 2007, two things made life for me difficult to the point of wondering how I would go on. A relationship of several years ended and my career was coasting. The passion I once held for life and its myriad adventures flickered out. It was an emotionally crippling time for me.

In true Jason fashion, though, I soon began to devise ways in which I could re-emerge from my doldrums. During a training session for work, a gentleman from New Zealand who was also attending suggested that I would be a shoo-in for a position in Australia. Whilst his idea was for me to become an independent consultant, the germ of this idea eventually morphed into a full blown sales position within my company. By late June of 2008, I had moved to Sydney and started my new job and life in my favourite place on the planet. In the time since I arrived in Australia, I've become accustomed to my new home country and have slowly made friends and built a new life for myself.

Do I sometimes feel the occasional pang of sadness over my previous loss? Of course I do. I have not yet fulfilled the goal of finding a new soul mate, and so the large amount of time I spend on my own can sometimes turn to thoughts of what I once had. Despite this fact, I have friends and loved ones who fill the void of my single life and for that I am eternally grateful. I even made a new friend during a recent trip who has become a real confidante to me, and that is something a valuing person like me is delighted to have found.

In the end, though, when I think about all the adventures I've experienced and all the risks I've taken that have paid off, an elderly gentleman named Carl reminds me to keep looking Up.

1 comment:

  1. Just in the past few months I have begun to change my outlook from looking for values beyond where I am in my life and current environment to valuing the life I have right here and right now. This has helped me to enjoy what I have and look for ways to improve it and add to those values. Sometime it's easy to think you have to have more and miss what you already have.