Have you ever wept on an airplane? We’ve all cried in the movie theatre or at home watching a film in the privacy of our abode. The other day, while flying home – probably somewhere over Idaho or Montana – the tears flowed. Thank goodness the window was right there and the eyes could be averted.
The cause? The in-flight movie: The Soloist. Jamie Foxx plays the role of street musician Nathaniel Ayers. Robert Downey, Jr. is Steve Lopez, the reporter who comes to meet him serendipitously on the street. It was all the more poignant because the film is based on reality – a real Julliard School of Music dropout living and playing music on the streets of Los Angeles.
So how to convey the impact without giving away the movie? Here’s the bottom line: there are those in our lives that we cannot rescue – and they may not want us to. Our intentions may be honorable and heartfelt. We may ache for their “salvation” or escape from whatever situation they are facing.
We try it all. We give. We push. We cajole. We give up; give in; give out. What do we do when none of our approaches seem to be working and all that happens is that weave in and out of the roles of Rescuer, Persecutor, and even Victim (when all of our strategies fail)?
When we have tried it all, what is left? Perhaps it is this: to just be their friend. We cannot force another to make the shift from Victim to Creator in their lives. We cannot absolve them of their ultimate right and freedom to choose their path or to choose their response to the situations they face as they make their way through their unique human experience.
That is the tearful truth. We cannot truly support and encourage a shift to happen for another without their own decision to take action. So, for me, here is the lesson in the movie: before we seek to change another, perhaps we need to begin with the basis of any healthy and functional relationship, which is to be – first and foremost – a friend.
And as the friendship takes root and grows, then maybe – and only maybe – we can be a Coach in supporting them in making choices and, at times, being a Challenger and champion for their learning and growth.
But the choice is theirs. A Creator is always at choice.