The happiness of backpack – Meaningful life philosophy that
The movie Up In The Air I just watched this week, is the most
thought-provoking film that I've come across in recent years. After
several days of self-digesting and back-and-forth sharing with some of
my friends, I decide to compile my thoughts hereby.
The major thread of this movie is well designed for the current situation – global crisis, economy recession, corporate lay-off, organizational restructuring, change management, etc. And to carry forward the core message, Ryan (leading actor by George Clooney) whose job is a 3rd party corporate downsizer flies around nationwide in the US, to not only persuade to-be-fire staff to accept the lay-off package, but also give motivational speech titled "What's in your backpack?" to large groups of audience in parallel with his major work.
About his personal "backpack" life philosophy – Ryan shares with many people that, life free of relationships and things can be a lot easier, just like a backpack with no heavy weights would by no means stress the carrier. And this is actually deeply depicted in his daily behavior –
– Strong opposition against marriage
– Casual relationship with this secret woman Alex
– Skillful means of firing innocent staff, at dozens
– Lack of mentorship spirit for this new graduate hire Natalie, etc.
Yet as a matured old man, who had experienced lots of trial-and-error moments about his rigid mindset throughout his work and life, Ryan gradually convinced himself that this backpack philosophy could be just the opposite around–
– At his sister's wedding ceremony, Ryan successfully gets buy-ins from his cold feet brother-in-law that "Important moments in life are seldom alone.", which in turn make happen the marriage between his sister and her fiance
– After a lot of one night stands with Alex, Ryan finally makes up his mind to let her know his commitments to the relationship, only to find out the reality that she is already a married women who regards Ryan as "an escape instead of real life""
– Given the firm level initiative of firing people via the internet (a plan aggressively proposed and pushed by this yound MIT girl Natalie), Ryan still believes in the meaningfulness of talking to each individual face to face, and being make sure every quitter can bravely start the whole new life, sound and safe
– Once Natalie leaves the firm due to the big striking news, Ryan proactively writes a glowing reference letter to the potential new employer for helping Natalie as his mentee
Indeed, we all have the stressful moments in our life; for the relationships like our parents, husband and wife, kids, friends, etc. and things including jobs, house, money, etc. We want the beloved ones that we care are happy, and we eager to make our material well-beings constantly upgrading to facilitate those happiness. Of course, in the process of all these endeavors, life can be tough and fate can be joker. Does this mean we have to get rid of some of them out of our life backpacks, so that the life can be happier? – Just the opposite.
It is because of these relationships and things in the backpack, that our long life journey has its life-long meaning. We take care of the family, work hard for the job, bring value to the people, make contribution to the country, etc. And the meaning of our life happiness, is made up of all of them, without which, we are just as good as dead, since nothing we can hopefully expect from our own tomb-stones. – Our backpack is empty, so we carry nothing, and we will die alone, eventually.
Just like the unexpected plot in the end, when Ryan transfers his significant flying-mile credits, which he has long been dreaming about, to his sister and brother-in-law, for them to travel around the world. With his compact suitcase in front of departure schedule at the airport, Ryan is bound to start his whole new life of Up In The Air, for now he identifies the real happiness of backpack.
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