Sunday, May 31, 2009


"Why are you standing there looking up at the sky?" Acts 1:11

Have you ever had the experience of watching someone on television half your age who has accomplished so much already? I know I have, and it leaves me with a frustrated feeling that I have not really had the chance to leave my mark on this world.

That's what old Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) felt, too, in the Pixar film Up. Sure he enjoyed his life, but he never realized all the dreams that he and his wife Ellie had over the years. The two of them always wanted to explore Paradise Falls in the jungles of South America, but life got the best of them.

In a scrapbook, they never got to fill in the pages marked "Things I'd Like To Do." And after Ellie dies, Carl dwells alone in his frustration.

But soon, adventure calls - when the city wants Carl's house torn down and Carl put into a retirement village. With thousands of helium-filled balloons, Carl charts a course for Paradise Falls, away from everyone but his happy memories.

I kept thinking back to Carl's scrapbook throughout the movie. How many times have I daydreamed about all the "Things I'd Like To Do" too? And how many times have I fallen short of those dreams because life happens to get in the way? For me, it's been far too many to count.

Carl and I kept thinking back to all the things we haven't been able to do - instead of focusing on what we actually did. Carl learns this lesson when he becomes a surrogate father-figure to a lost Wilderness Explorer Scout named Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai). Russell thinks back to his own dad and how he misses the "boring stuff" - sitting by side of the road with his dad counting cars that go by, heading out for ice cream, camping in the backyard... and this causes Carl to wonder what things he might have missed staring at the sky and daydreaming.

A movie like Up reminded me to take notice of all the "boring stuff" of life. And in this economy when we can't afford luxary vacations and exotic activities, perhaps God is giving us a chance to stop and look around us - and enjoy some of that "boring stuff" of everyday life.

In the Scriptures, when Jesus ascends to the heavens, the apostles stare endlessly into the sky. But angels come down and ask them "Why are you standing there looking up at the sky?" (Acts 1:11). Instead, they tell them, go into the real world and find Jesus there. So they did exactly that, and in the poorest person, they saw the face of Christ, and in the most common meal, they experienced the presence of God. It was in the "boring stuff" that they found their dreams.

So when my wife and I got home from the movie, we took a nice long walk. It was a beautiful sunny day and we strolled around the neighborhood and taking in the sunshine and nature. Sure, it wasn't a walk on a Hawaiian beach or in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, but it was perfect in every way.

How many other times have I done some of that everyday stuff like a walk in the neighborhood, and missed the fact that every moment is a gift from God - not just the exotic and the exciting?

It's fine to dream and hope, so long as we don't lose track of the world around us. Carl had a great life with his wife Ellie, and that was the exciting adventure of his life - no matter if it was in the South American wildlife exhibit at the local zoo rather than the actual South America.

Stop and look around you every now and then, and thank God for all that "boring stuff" that makes our lives so rich and blessed.


Mary Jansen said...

I may see the movie based on this review. As an avid traveler, I want to appreciate the non-traveling times in my life more.

god googler said...

Paul--This is awesome! I am going to link to this over at Googling God as I loved the movie too. Especially DUG the dog!

Anonymous said...

My dad and I just saw UP, and it made me think about how I am tying myself down, and if I can just allow myself to let go, then I can be free to live life as the person that I am, who is trying to get out. I don't want "the whole parade to pass me by", because I am living in the shadow of someone else. Great flick!