YouTube screenshot from Rocky (1976)
Mickey Z. — Now With Purpose
December 21, 2020
2020 is not done with us yet. We are divided and exhausted and focused on the present. Yet, we have to simultaneously summon the fortitude to embrace the recovery work that looms in 2021. Where will we find the inspiration to do our part in this long-overdue national healing? Probably the same place we always turn for motivation: YouTube. To follow are some movie scenes and a couple of songs to help galvanize and energize you for your upcoming year of revival.
1. Rocky gets off the canvas in the 14th round
Make 2020 look at you the way Apollo Creed looks at Rocky after he rises from the canvas at 1:08 of this video. The announcer had just wondered aloud: “What is keeping him up?” Even Rocky’s own trainer implores him to stay down. But, as Adrian emerges from the locker room to watch, Rocky gets to his feet. Then, after assuring the referee that’s he is not beaten, he challenges Creed to try again.
2. It’s My Life
As Bon Jovi sings:
It’s my life
It’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just wanna live when I’m alive
3. Rick’s nod
The forces of repression and division plant their flag. Someone in your midst wishes to stand up to them. Everyone is just waiting for the signal. At 0:44 of this clip from Casablanca, with a simple nod, Rick (Humphrey Bogart) not only sets loose the forces of resistance but makes it clear he is with them — in body and spirit — even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
As Dave Grohl sings:
It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again
5. Let 2021 know that we will all stand up for justice
This has been a year of reckoning, of unrest, of deep introspection. How can we move forward? Well, for starters, we can look to Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) in Hidden Figures. She’s got some inspiration to offer about how to stand your ground, find your voice, and tell your story. As this scene shows, such courage can directly lead to the sustainable change we all need:
As Queen Latifah sings:
There's a dream in the future
There's a struggle that we have yet to win
And there's pride in my heart
'Cause I know where I'm going
And I know where I've been
7. You can survive and you can make it to the other side of your struggles
After enduring the worst the world can throw at him in The Shawshank Redemption, the resilient and resourceful Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) implements a plan. He puts the past behind him and makes it to the other side:
As Gloria Gaynor sings:
Oh no, not I, I will survive
As long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
And I've got all my love to give and I'll survive
I will survive
9. Keep moving forward…
We come full circle and return to an older, wiser version of Rocky Balboa (the character and the film) for these closing words: “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”
Real life, of course, is not a movie or a song. Yet, there is immeasurable power in the stories we choose to share. For centuries, people have found strength and motivation in the tales they pass down to each other. In “times like these,” this indomitable aspect of our shared human condition just may serve as a much-needed road map.
Mickey Z. can be found here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!