I watched the movie Moneyball the other night at a friends house. The main character is Billy Bean, played by Brad Pitt. It was a movie that highlighted a job that I didn’t know existed (general manager) for a sport I generally don’t care much about (sorry/not sorry baseball fans). Ever inquisitive about how things work, and what life is like for other people, I couldn’t help but like it. Even more, I was caught up in the story. Because getting caught up in a story is one of my favorite things ever, I decided to put it in my “Movies Worthy of Recommending” category.
The general story line is very sport-sy and American independenc-ey about baseball, money, picking teams right, this guy that did it differently than other people and thus was unpopular. Will it work out for him? Will he go down in flames? Should he be sticking to his gut instinct like this? These are all questions a viewer is asking. This is the backdrop. But, as usual, there are relationships happening left and right that impact the story. One of said relational blips is the relationship between Billy and his daughter.
Billy and the Mom are separated (maybe divorced?) and he hasn’t been very involved in his daughter’s life up to these, her teenage years. But he decides that he wants to do things a little bit differently, so he has his daughter fly up to visit him. In one scene, he takes her to a music store and they look at all the guitars. She is drawn to several that are pretty because they have red on them.
Even in her awkward teen-ness, he convinces her to play the guitar and sing in the store. She does. And she sings this song that has a really catchy tune. Catchy enough that I decided to you tube it the next day. As I listened to the song (originally by Venka), I resonated with words. Like much good art, they echoed my internal, lived experience.
“I’m just a little bit caught in the middle, life is a maze and love is a riddle, I don’t know where to go, can’t do it alone, I’ve tried and I don’t know why.” And I am like, “Right on, Venka! You are peppy and cute and I resonate with your message. I KNOW this kind of unrest and confusion!” But I still thought that I liked the smooth sweetness of the actress’ version of this best. So I looked up the Moneyball clip.
Casey picks up the guitar, hums and plays it a bit. Dad watches. “You need to sing. That’s SO good. It’s beautiful.” Casey says, “Sometimes I sing. It’s fun to sing with your song. But I don’t want people to listen to me.” Dad, “Aww, honey. I think people would love to listen to you, that is beautiful.” Pause. “Would you sing a little for your dad, right here in the middle of the store?” She smiles, unsure. She looks more closely at him, weighing the pro’s and con’s through squinted eyes. And she acquiesces, saying, “Little bit,” which Dad repeats back to her, “Little bit.” “You ready?” she asks. “I’m ready.”
Watch Casey closely.
Now, I want you to think of the awkward teenager that we all have inside of ourselves. The small, questioning, raw version of ourselves. It asks,
“Am I going to risk it?”
“Am I going to put myself out there?”
“Will they laugh at me?”
Ultimately, we are asking “Can I handle the stage? Am I enough?”
Casey does all of the subtle things to channel this version of ourselves. She takes a measured risk. She hums instead of singing, scans the store to determine how large her audience is, looks at her Dad’s face to reassure herself that he meant what he said, and makes stabilizing eye contact with him during the middle of the song.
Have you been there, dipping your toe in the water? Deciding how much of yourself you would put out there? If you have, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. There is a reason.
There was a time when your needed cheering the most, but the stands were empty. Or when the cheerleader’s words rung patronizing/ condescending/less than true. And your take-away. . it stung. It forever defined your gifts. Worst of all, it defined your value.
If this happened to you, I ask you to slow down in this moment and take a deep breath. Lean in to your raw, fearful, not-enough self. And this time. . . this time, watch Dad.
Hear your Father’s voice in the room with you. See HIS face. See HIS value of what you bring.
HE is proud!
HE is impressed and YOU are impressive!
And HE is the only one that can make us YOU believe it.
Please. . .
The world is wanting for you!