I finally got to watch “We are Marshall” last night. It was an amazing movie. It was a true testament to the power of “just doing” as a way to heal from deep wounds. For those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s the true story of the crash of a private plane that killed all on board from the Marshall University football team. It’s the story of those that are left; the husbands, wives, dads, brothers, children, teammates, coaches, girlfriends. It’s the story of how we heal, how we deal with pain, how we move forward in the face of doubt that we will ever smile again.
I thought of that today in the context of the economy and certainly Sept 11th, which was yesterday. I cannot imagine the grief that was felt on that fateful day by people directly affected through the loss of a loved one; I can only send thoughts of healing and love through my intentions. I think of those over the past, oh so many months of the down economy; people affected by job loss, financial ruin, loss of home, retirement savings.. the list goes on and on. And I think of how in the movie, great loss was handled. For many, they shut down. They stopped living. They went to work, went to the local diner, went to school. But they were dead inside. All they could think of was their tremendous grief. When the new coach, played brillantly by Matthew McConaughey, comes into town to build a new team, he’s met with tremendous resistance. The residents, former coaches, the few players that didn’t make the plane that went down ( the guilty survivors, really) meet him, they can’t even imagine playing football again. “It would be a disgrace to their memory,” is what he’s told. But instead of packing his bags and leaving town, he gently, persistently forges on. Not with force or militant voice but with the knowledge that time heals. It allows us to move forward. It softens the rough edges. Gives us faith that there will be light. There will be a new day. There is reason to have faith and optimism.
On a personal level, I can think of all that I lost over these past, what is almost 12 months. There have been the practical effects but almost more painful are the emotional scars. The tension, the stress, the strain and the toll that takes on your body and soul. I thought of the almost complete exhaustion of one of the players in the movie, one of the few players that didn’t get on the downed plane, and how despite his injury, he continued to try to play. The assistant coach, Red, put his hand on his shoulder and said, “You’ve done enough, more than enough,” and he just kept repeating it, despite the feeble protests of the player. You knew watching, that he couldn’t go back in the game, but it was all he knew as a way to try to cope with the sense of responsibilility he felt as one of the only surviving players on the original team. When he finally accepts the coach’s words, he collapses in pure exhaustion and cries deeply and with what seems like relief, almost. Once we accept help and give up the fight, we can actually find that relief that we’ve sought for so long.
I truely hope that we’ve turned the corner. I read an article today indicating the search terms in Google have given an economist a sense that people’s sense of optimism is improving. I suppose if you look, it’s out there.
The team in the movie, by all accounts, didn’t do well when you counted up the wins and losses at the end of their first season back. But it was the words of the head coach that summed it all up: for them it was not about winning but just about playing. About just “doing” and realizing that in that, is all the “winning” you could ask for.