I guess it is a movie weekend, and why not, I think the Oscars are coming right? I do not normally blog about movies but I will make an exception this weekend.  I watched a unique film last night with my wife Annamarie and it left a profound sense that has stuck with me till morning. You know you have watched a powerful film when it sticks with you for a couple days. Directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen, the movie The Way really touched me.

A story about a Father losing his son is enough to pull on the purse strings of your heart; especially if you are a Father or Mother yourself. The Way was a thoughtful and inspirational story about family, friends and the challenges we face with coping with lose.  Martin Sheen plays Tom, a typical baby boomer American doctor who comes to France to deal with the tragic loss of his son (played by Emilio Estevez). Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage “The Way of St. James” to honor his son’s desire to finish the journey.

Along the way, we are introduced to several characters: a Dutch man trying to lose weight, a Canadian who is trying to quit smoking, a writer who has lost his creative edge and of course Tom who is coping with the loss of his son. The story line, characters and scenery were inspiring – the wife and I were ready to drag out the back packing gear right after the movie and disembark on our own pilgrimage.

Without over-analyzing the movie, the premise was about “the life we live and the life we choose.” It seems few of us chose our life. Sure we are born in a specific family and community. We have religious affiliations, friends and our parents expectations but how many of you can say today that where you are in life now was entirely of your choosing? When I was in my early twenties, I never imagined that I would marry have children, move to Illinois from California – lose my hair, work in a completely different profession than what my college degree describes – writing a self-help book involving meditation and daily life practice? Let’s just say, I never thought I would be where I am today – whether good or bad.

Loss is a completely unavoidable and also unpredictable facet of life. We will never know when someone around us may die prematurely or that our own demise may come without a moment’s notice. Without getting into details now, my wife and I have faced loss on an intimate level and it changes your life forever. It is the experiences in life that shape who we become – both the positive and negative – the triumphs and tragedies. Life is sublime and the life we choose is only one facet, but the life we live is truly where the beauty and energy arise from within. We need to live our lives fully, reverently and compassionately so that when we reach the golden years, we can look back on our lives and smile.

John C. Bader