(the pursuit of happyness)

I just got home from watching The Pursuit of Happyness, an adapted version of the real life of Chris Gardner. Very inspiring film, not to mention how cool it was to watch Will Smith co-star with his own son. I walked away with 2 scenes etched in my mind and two thoughts that I hope will be ever burned in my heart.

The first – I will never use a public restroom the same again. There’s this scene just after Chris Gardner and his son were evicted from the place they were staying in. They were forced to find a place to sleep for the night. Chris is obviously very down about the fact that his son will not have a warm, clean bed, and they end up sitting on a bench at the subway station with all of their belongings. Long story short, Chris realized the need to make the best of the situation for his son, so he pretended they had gone back in time and were cave men. Imaginatively, they looked around the prehistoric subway station and saw all kinds of Dinosaurs. A T-Rex roared and forced them to find their “caveâ€? to rest in for safety. They escaped with their belongings into a one-person bathroom cave off to the side Mt. Subway Station and locked the door. Chris wept as he held his son in his lap. His son got a little bit of sleep there for the night. In the public restroom. On the floor.

I heard Chris Seay, a compassionate leader from Houston, TX, recently say that American church culture treats our culture kind of like the way we usually treat a public restroom. You know, I did it today at a restaurant. You enter using your feet to open the door. You pray that they have automatic flushing on the urinal. They do. You finish and…crap. They don’t have automatic paper towel dispensers. So, you pull the lever down 4 times to dispense the towel before you hold your hands under the automatic sinks. You hope the soap is antibacterial, wash and rinse, pull of the towel, and dry your hands off. Open the door back up with your damp paper towel as a magical germ barrier, and throw it away but hit short on the rim of the trash can. Somebody else will pick it up off the floor. Church culture tends to treat culture that way. So dirty that we want to use it but not touch it. So concerned about what we will catch from it that we exit as quickly and as disconnectedly as possible. I mean who knows who slept there the night before?

What are we doing? Are we really that concerned about our well-being? I’m not talking about the trip to the bathroom. I still and will continue to do that. But what about the people who exist in the daily and survive any way they can? What am I doing about them? Lord, help me to see people like you see them – valuable. Priceless. Worth dying for.

The 2nd thought – I am going to quit being annoyed by the sign on the door at my son’s school that won’t allow us to enter in through the most convenient door nearest to his classroom. Instead, we have to walk all the way around this huge building to enter the door furthest away from his 2nd floor classroom. You see, of the many times I have taken him to school this school year, only twice have I actually enjoyed the journey through the breezeway around the building holding my 5-year old’s hand.

In The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris and his son walk or take the bus most places. Depending upon their lateness and destination, Chris either soaks up the blessing of that journey through the eyes of his little young explorer, or he hushes and hurries him along pouring cold water on the fire that burns within his little boy. From time to time, though, his son tells knock-knock jokes or they imagine they’re on an adventure or they just are together, and they’re happy.

The 2 times I enjoyed the breezeway trek to the furthest away door were when Caleb and I made an adventure of it. There was no adventure, but we made it one. It existed because we existed as 2 adventurers living life with imagination and fervor rather than obligation and unnecessary speed. I think I will quit grumbling under my breath about the stupid sign that won’t let me enter the most convenient doorway to drop him off at school, and instead see every crack in the sidewalk as the cavern we must jump across and every noise as the mysterious sounds of the jungle on our trek to light up the treasured, #2 button after we discover the elevator that takes us to our paradise destination.

I think I will live like something else matters besides my schedule and my supposed responsibilities at work that any other person could accomplish who isn’t the father of my 5-year old.

Bottom line is this: what do you think about when you enter a public restroom, AND whose sign do you need to quit getting ticked off at? These are two of life’s most important questions. How will you answer them? Will you be happy anyway?

3 thoughts on “(the pursuit of happyness)

  1. I live in a pretty good town. I can’t imagine anyone sleep in a public bathroom. I mean, all the bathrooms I know of are inside a building. We don’t have subways, etc. I guess when I see a public bathroom I just see a public bathroom.

    I always try to donate things. I feel that some people don’t choose to be poor/without a home. Those people genuinely need help. Actually, all people on the street genuinely need help (though in different ways).

    Nice thoughtful post!

  2. I just saw the movie yesterday myself and THAT was the scene that stuck out most in my mind. How “Chris” just wanted to protect his son, provide him with a good night’s sleep. How he had taken care to line the floor with toilet paper and laid his son down so carefully. How he covered his son’s ears when people started banging on the door. And you KNOW he wanted to scream, “Shut up, my child is sleeping in here.”

    We don’t do enough for the people busting their butts to stay out of poverty. It is a cruel cycle.

    I like your writing.

    Come & visit me at my blog if you care.


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