American Sniper

American Sniper

I enjoy movies.  I have seen a lot of movies in my 44 years.  I have never experienced what I experienced this afternoon at the end of American Sniper.

The movie ended (I won’t spoil it for you) and a few hands clapped but then a wave of silence spread across the theatre.  This was a crowded theatre.  I was alone towards the middle top.  The entire theatre emptied in a slow, orderly fashion and you could of heard a pen drop.  It was deathly silent.

Plain and simple; Clint Eastwood is a genius.

Circa 1978-1980 I was in early elementary school.  My teacher gave us an assignment to write a letter to an influential figure in our lives.  The idea was that they would write us back.  Hopefully, create a pen-pal type of situation.  We get to practice our handwriting and learn how to address an envelope with the correct headings and addresses.  We may even get a little extra something in return.

My influential figure was Clint Eastwood.  I have no idea why.  I was only 8-9 years old.  I wasn’t allowed to watch any of his R-rated movies.  I was watching, Any Which Way You Can and Everywhich Way But Loose.  I guess?

I was enthralled by this actor.  He was such the ALPHA Male to me.  I wanted to be like him.

3-4 weeks after I mailed my letter to Mr. Eastwood, I received a package in the mail.  It was a glossy 8×10 photo of Clint himself in a white cowboy hat!  He signed the bottom

Chris, Thanks for being a fan!

  • Clint Eastwood

I wish I still had that photo.  A long lost memory.  It cemented in my psyche that Clint Eastwood was and is the greatest Hollywood celebrity there is.  I could talk about him for days…

What impresses me the most today is how Mr. Eastwood can write a story… How he can produce and direct a movie that will pull at your heartstrings.  Shake me to my core.

  • Unforgiven
  • A Perfect World
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Invictus
  • Gran Torino
  • And now American Sniper

I realize that Mr. Eastwood has done so much more.  But these are some of my latest favorites.  The ending music of Gran Torino with Clint singing is haunting.  The ability to infuse sports into Nelson Mandela’s life in Invictus.  The relationship story of A Perfect World and Million Dollar Baby.  Wow… when Hillary Swank breaks her neck in Million Dollar Baby I was rattled.  The gunfight in Unforgiven… The acting he is able to do as well…  I can’t get enough of Clint Eastwood.

 

Bradley Cooper deserves whatever awards that the liberals in Hollywood can muster.  This man is solid.  He nailed this part.  Eastwood was able to cast the best possible actor for this role.

The story is truly inspirational.  My daughter, R, and I went to the grocery this afternoon after I had seen the movie.  She watched it yesterday.  She was asking me.  How could Chris Kyle not “freak out” like the other soldiers.  Why was he able to heal?  I started to go over the beginning of the movie.  Back to his childhood.

Kyle was raised by a very strict father.  He explained that there are three types of people in this world.

  • Sheep
  • Wolves
  • Sheep dogs

Most people are sheep and the rest are wolves preying on the sheep.  The sheep dogs are rare and they are the ones that protect their own.

Kyle jumped in on a schoolyard fight when his little brother was getting his butt beat.  Kyle took down the bully.  His father said at the dinner table something along the lines, “I ain’t raising no sheep!”  He then pulls out his belt and slams it on the table saying, “If you’re a wolf get ready!”  referring to the belt.  So the only other thing you could be in Kyle’s life was a sheepdog.  His dad asked, “Did you finish it?”  referring to beating down the bully.

That explains all you need to know about Chris Kyle.  He viewed his fellow soldiers as “his own”.  He was a sheep dog and was killing the bad guys just to protect his own.  He never thought too deep about the politics, the reasons of war, is it morally correct, etc…. He was simply a sheep dog protecting his own.

R then tells me…

“You know how you are always telling me that most people are sheep?”

I answer, “yes…”  (I have always taught the girls that most people are sheep that need herding. Just because they are sheep doesn’t mean they need to be slaughtered.  Help guide them along the right path.).

R says, “Well I said that most people are sheep or something along those line the other day at school.  Some girl got really mad at me and said that was the worst thing she has ever heard me say.”  R pauses with me looking at her… “I guess she is a sheep.”

We both laugh…. We have a screwed up sense of humor.

Go see American Sniper

Learning from those around me

Learning from those around me

Yesterday an old high school buddy of mine (divorced too) and I went out on what would best be described as a “Pup Crawl”.  This adventure started at 10:30 AM and continued until about 8 PM.  This was to be an all-day jaunt around the area.  My buddy invited some others to join us along the way. But each of those individuals were like characters in my new chapter of life.

In the past I would go out in order to laugh, to act foolish, to have a good time.  Lately I am not as interested at this.  It is not that I didn’t have fun… Everyone knows I laughed and even acted foolish at times.  My focus has just shifted.

I was watching people and observing how they interact with those around us.  I want to learn why people do what they do.  I tried to learn why things happen the way they do.  The people I interacted with I truly wanted to know their story.  I asked questions that would make people pause.  The frankness the openness and honesty that I approached them was unique.  I think I am living life differently because I want to learn what is next for me in the second half of my life?

It might just be as simple as I care more about the people around me.

I say this but then I remember what my buddy at work always says.  “Name someone other than a family member that you actually like.”  He probably knows me more than anyone at work.  We talk about everything together.  He is completely different than me in his race, religion, politics, economic level, etc… But he knows me well.  He is correct in the fact that for the first 3 years we knew each other I was married.  I did not allow people to get close to me.  I have always been friendly but aloof.  Why bother?  I had everything I needed.  Everyone thinks I like them because I act like I do.  I just was not really interested in their true being.

I can’t hold this against my buddy.  He sees me only at work.  I am the “boss” so I have a belief system that you do not mix play with work.  So, I purposely put a wall up between myself and everyone.

But lately I have been wondering if my buddy is correct.  Maybe I do this outside of work too?

That leads us back to the ‘Pup Crawl’

Late in the afternoon the owner of the last pub we visit brings an older gentleman into the sitting area we had taken over.  I instantly become interested in learning everything I can about this gentleman.  I will call him Bob for simplicity sake.

Bob and I hit it off splendidly.  I start to learn about Bob’s life, job, belief systems, etc…  Bob is a “seaman”.  He has a home base in Houston and one in Prog, Czechoslovakia.   He has been divorced for over 30 years.  He was married for almost as many.  His kids are grown and older than me.  Bob is 72 years old.

I do digress in the story a moment and start to think about that country song, People are Crazy by Billy Currington.

It fit exactly what was happening with Bob and I.  I was waiting for Bob to give me a great nugget of wisdom like Currington sang, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

What I did learn is that Bob highly recommended a few books.  One is Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up, by James Hollis.  Bob said this book will put everything I am seeking into perspective.

So maybe my “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy” has yet to be found?  Maybe I will find it in the words of Hollis?

I have a feeling that Hollis will not have as large of an impact on me as Bob the seaman did.

A few other nuggets Bob passed on to me:

  • Create a budget and look at it daily. Keep every receipt and know exactly to the penny what you have at all times. (I have this one covered)
  • Be selfish. Don’t be so American. Take care of you first. Imagine your drowning in the water along with another. If you don’t save yourself first you can’t save the others. (I think I’m good here)
  • Embrace being alone. Solitude is good (Im learning)
  • Write (I have been doing this)
  • Create two homes in different parts of the world. This will allow you to flip your perspective (need to think about this. Maybe North Dakota? Lol)
  • Don’t get remarried (disagree)
  • Buy a sports car for fun and a regular car for daily activity. (ok, I’ll start working on this)
  • Think before you talk. Pause and slow down. (Need to work on this)

What was interesting to learn, is that talking to an older guy drew the interests of a few ladies.  The table next to us was a lady in her 40s and another in her early 30s/late 20s.  The younger one kept smiling at me the entire time.  I can see the desperation in those eyes.  The loneliness, self doubt, and hurt… a longing for happiness.   She was a very pretty girl that finds herself eating cake on her birthday at a bar.   I had to walk past her table once to go to the restroom.  Really, cake??  Like the nice guy I am I paused and asked, “Is it your birthday?”  She laughed and offered me a bite.  I declined (cake and beer have never been a good mix for me…. Just saying).  But here I am more interested in talking to my new friend Bob than any one night stand.  I have changed…  As I leave the bar with Bob, I see the sadness in her dark circled eyes as I walk past telling her to order ice cream too.  I’m not here to fix the sadness in those around me.  Poor girl.  I’m sure she is waking up in some strangers bed right now (as I type this blog entry) hoping that he will call her in the next day or two knowing he will not.  Amazing how much hurt is in the world.

Bob also gave me his email and asked me to keep in contact with him once I read the book by Hollis.  I will and then I will give Bob the link to this post.

Bob….If you are reading this… I was honored to meet you.  Safe journeys my friend.