It seems like yesterday, but it was actually 1993. Sue, the kids and I were watching the Walt Disney movie “Cool Runnings“, a story based on the first Jamaican Bobsled Team. One of the actors, John Candy, was a household favorite with his lovable roles in “Harry Crumb“, “Uncle Buck” and “Trains, Planes & Automobiles“ to name a few. The next year we would sadly lose John Candy as he would die in his sleep from a heart attack at the all too early age of 43. Candy, a big man (by any standard) standing at 6′ 3″ and weighing close to 330 lbs. at the time of his death, apparently smoked a pack of cigarettes each day. Years of practice (read a bad habit) readied him to respond with spontaneous humor with references to his size. Behind the self-deprecating jokes, Candy harbored considerable pain. “I’m the one who has to look in the mirror,” he told PEOPLE in 1981, “and after a while it begins to eat at you.” Those who watched Candy go from diet to diet, trainer to trainer, hot dog to hoagie, bore sad witness to a constant struggle between his good intentions and his self-destructive desires. “I know what I have to do if I want to lose weight and stay healthy: eat a proper diet and exercise,” Candy said. “All I’ve got to do is apply it.” (1)
Keeping John Candy in mind, regardless of which movie we watched as a family, it always seems that we would walk away with one or two lines that we still to this day repeat time and time again. “Cool Runnings” was no exception. In this particular scene, Yul Brenner (played by actor Malik Yoba) attempting to “shake-up” his younger counterpart Junior Bevil (played by actor Rawle D. Lewis) grabs and holds him up to a mirror. “Look into the mirror and tell me what you see” Brenner barks out. Junior Bevil responds, “I see Junior; I see a young boy who’s afraid”. Yul Brenner responds – “You see Junior? Well, let me tell you what I see. I see passion! I see pride! I see power! I see a bad-ass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody!!!” Brenner’s intense and passionate delivery declaring how he saw Bevil is forever entrenched in my mind.
Some 19 years after first seeing “Cool Runnings” I had the delightful pleasure to meet George (not his real name) at one of my personal training sessions at The MAC (Maryland Athletic Club). Afterwards I learned that George had over the last year or so had lost approximately 200 pounds. WOW I thought, that’s simply incredible!!! Still, when I first met him, what impressed me most was his smile, his enthusiasm and genuinely good nature; I knew immediately George was a good person with a wonderful heart. George was the kind of person you just wanted to be around. While George looked great, he still didn’t see it that way. He still wore clothes which were too big for him and spoke in terms of what he perceived as his weaknesses and shortcomings; quite simply it appeared to me that he lacked self-confidence. Apparently when George looked in the mirror, he still saw “the old overweight George”.
OK Kimasabbie, by now you must certainly be wondering where I’m going with this blog. Well it’s your turn; you knew this question was coming, “What do you see when you look in the mirror?” Do you see confidence, enthusiasm and kindness or do you see the little boy Junior who’s afraid? Is your thinking “up-to-date” with your present situation or are you like George, living in the past? When you look in the mirror, are you like John Candy hating what you see and harboring pain? While you might feel your situation is hopeless, I’m here to tell you it’s not; it simply doesn’t have to be that way. In life there are both “good habits” as well as “bad habits”. A habit is nothing more than a behavior that repeatedly occurs, usually on a subconscious level; make the law of habit work for you in a positive way. Looking in the mirror doesn’t have to apply solely to physical attributes, it can also relate to our thinking, our internal moral compass or even our attitudes and how we relate to others. Remember from previous blogs, as related in Volume 1, Number 1, October 18, 2011 – NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES and Volume 2, Number 4, July 23, 2012 – IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD, then change your words. Last, but not least, recall from BEFORE YOU CAN LEAD, YOU MUST LEARN TO FOLLOW, Volume 1, Number 6, November 3, 2011 where Dr. Keith Ablow, noted psychiatrist stated in the book he co-authored, “The 7 Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life”, “more than any one thing, you must be truthful with yourself; It is never too late to turn and face the real story of how you became who you are in this world, in order to rid yourself of any emotional or behavioral patterns, especially unconscious ones, that are undermining your possibilities.”
I just heard that George finally ditched the old clothes and is fitting into regular size clothes you can buy off the rack. Apparently he summoned the strength from within to face the truth and breakthrough his self imposed distorted image of self. We were all so happy. Gone is the Junior Bevil mentality of being the little boy who’s afraid. Left behind is his “living in the past” bad habit. I’m sure John Candy is looking down and smiling knowing that George showed incredible strength and intestinal fortitude even if he could not. Looking in the mirror will never be the same.
With God, while all things are possible, we must still give it our best efforts. We must think positively avoiding John Candy opportunities to put ourselves down using humor as a disguise. We must be willing to let go of bad habits and replace them with good habits. We must live in the present and be disciplined enough to put our goals into action. We must be kind to ourselves recognizing that true change occurs from within. Are you worth being noticed? Are you smart enough or strong enough to attain your goals? You better believe you are!!!! As I have said many times before and bears being repeated….The most important voice you hear is your own….make certain you are broadcasting positive thoughts of faith, hope and love. Be kind to yourself – change the channel (preferably to WJOE) and commit to being your best. Do this and your good intentions will win out over any weaknesses and/or self-destructive desires. I know you can do this, George knows it too and so does the spirit of John Candy. Now get out there and clean up your mirror, smile and see the wonderful creation of God that we all know and love…you!!!!!
Have a GREAT day!!!!! May God Bless You!!!!
Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)
(1) People Magazine March 21, 1994 Vol. 41 No. 10 Exit Laughing By Karen S. Schneider