Life Lessons from Cool Runnings

I cry. More specifically, I cry at movies. I’m not really sure why I’m more prone to cry watching films than in real life. The earliest one, and the one that still makes me tear up every single time, was Rudy. I know I’m not alone in that respect. Rudy is one of the all-timers when it comes to making an audience cry like Terrell Owens defending Tony Romo. There are countless others who agree with me on Rudy, but there is one movie I always bring up when I try to show how often this happens to me. If you haven’t already figured out what that movie is, we need to work on your deductive reasoning skills.

I’ve cried at more movies than I could possibly remember, so why is Cool Runnings the one that always sticks out for me?

Why not?

Just kidding. I’m not playing the why not game again. I have this specific memory of being a kid watching the movie at home. Tears started running down my face when they carry the bobsled over the finish line after crashing, while one of the best slow claps in cinematic history breaks out. I then sprinted out the back door trying to make sure no one saw my anguish. Sidebar: if I just ruined the movie for you because you hadn’t seen it, too bad. It was made around two decades ago. While that makes me feel old, it also makes me feel like there’s no need to worry about spoiling a movie ending that old. If you’re upset about that, you should know some things. Bruce Willis is a ghost, Brad Pitt kills Kevin Spacey after Spacey chops Gwenneth Paltrow’s head off, and Chris Farley saves the factory. Ok, you probably would have figured out that last one anyway.

Cool Runnings is a perfect fit for the mid-day or late nighttime slot on cable channels. No one is going to tune in just to see it, but you might not turn the station if you have nothing else to watch, which is exactly what happened to me. Amongst many wonderful training montages, scenes making fun of how cold Jamaicans were in Canada, and Doug E. Doug turning in an Oscar-worthy performance, one line caught my ear.

If you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.

John Candy was talking to Leon (yes, that’s the lead actor’s credited name) about winning a gold medal. First of all, the thought of John Candy as an Olympic gold medalist is equivalent to the thought of Russell Crowe as a Tony award winner, but let’s move past that. There’s a large difference between want and need. Too often, we get confused that we need the things we want, but typically that’s not the case. We all have desires and it’s healthy to pursue those, just don’t let that pursuit define you. There’s a great old lyric from Mos Def on the Blackstar album with Talib Kweli I feel rings true. Life is more than what your hands can grasp. I know looking for philosophy from a terribly fantastic Disney movie seems odd. Sometimes you just have to listen to what’s going on around you. Who knows what you’ll hear?

Oh yeah, I promised you life lessons.

  1. Jamaicans do not smoke weed… in Disney movies.
  2. Get a lucky egg.
  3. Finish the race.

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