Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Troubles?

One of my favorite all-time movies is Jeremiah Johnson, with Robert Redford.

It’s the story of a soldier in the 1800s who wants to be a mountain man. So, with no training and few supplies he goes to the mountains to learn to do it. No sitting around thinking about it; no going through endless meetings; no agonizing over the rights and wrongs. He…just…goes.

I’ll cut to the chase: As you can imagine there are a mountain (pun intended) of challenges, elations, successes, heartbreaks, and failures. Indians try to kill him (and then revere him when they can’t). White men use him for their purposes (which he does not agree with but goes along with them because they appeal to “what’s right”). He shows all the sides of a human; love, sadness, tenderness, and a level of savagery that is in all of us, just waiting to be released.

For me, the best moment of the movie is near the end. Johnson is sitting at a campfire with an old mountain man (actor Will Geer, Grandpa from the Waltons) who had been his mentor. The old man recognizes the toll the mountain life as taken on Johnson. He asks, “So, Pilgrim, ‘twas it worth it? All that happened, all the troubles?”

Johnson barely hears the man and responds, “Eh, what troubles?” The life he had led was the life he wanted to lead, whether he knew what was coming or not. All that happened was simply part of living the life.

How many of us will so live our lives as to be able to look back and say, “Eh, what troubles?”

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