There are no points for guessing the source that inspired this post. I’m not a huge Will Smith fan (I have a couple of friends who are, they have seen every Will Smith movie and swear by every episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). But a few Will Smith movies I have seen have made a deep impression upon me. They have made me think. They have made me reflect. They have given me life lessons. This post is a collection of the takeaways that I gleaned from these select movies. I considered making an effort not to include spoilers, but that made it difficult to convey the takeaways, so I instead decided to issue a:
Spoiler Alert: The content below contains major spoilers to the movies Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness and Hitch.
Nalin Bhatt mentioned that he has watched Seven Pounds many times. I too proudly plead guilty. In this movie, Will Smith’s character is driving with his fiancée by his side. He texts while driving, and a moment later, he finds himself in a car crash, with his fiancée dead. Overcome with remorse, he finds that he cannot live with himself, and he decides to atone for his mistake by finding seven worthy recipients, and giving each of them one organ from his body. In other words, he decides to pay seven pounds of flesh, a la The Merchant of Venice. This movie gave me multiple takeaways:
Takeaway 1: Don’t text while driving (or engage in other dangerous behaviors in the road)
Will Smith’s character Ben Thomas displayed a momentary lapse in judgement, and a moment later found that his life had turned upside down . How many of us have done this. When you go on the road, how many people do you see talking on the cell phone and riding their two-wheelers or cars. The odds are with them, they go unscathed, only to repeat the behavior again. The sad part is, if a lesson is to be issued, it comes at a massive price, like the one Ben paid. While this takeaway is likely a given for members of os.me, a reminder to be safe each time cannot hurt. Don’t text while driving. Don’t talk on the cell phone while driving. Wear a helmet. Wear seat-belt, even in the back-seat.
Takeaway 2: Practice Gratitude
How many times would we have done something or the other that involved an element of risk. Nature could have given us the same indictment that She gave Ben. She did not. This calls for massive, massive gratitude.
Takeaway 3: Random Acts of Kindness
Writing this article feels very strange, since I appear to be preaching to the choir that is the readers of os.me. But let us continue the same line of thinking. Nature could have dealt us the same blow that She dealt Ben. And we might have been unable to live with ourselves just like Ben. Now, Nature did not deal us the same blow. In addition to recognizing this and showing our gratitude, how about practicing random acts of kindness in lieu of the seven pounds of flesh that Ben paid.
Takeaway 4: It’s Blue, Sir
The character who made the most impact on me in the movie was not Will Smith’s Ben. Rather, it is Ezra Turner, brilliantly characterized by Woody Harrelson. Will Smith wants to make sure that his “gifts” are given to worthy people. He shortlists Ezra Turner, a blind man who works as a customer service representative, as a candidate to donate his eyes to. He tests Ezra by mercilessly bombarding him with insults and invectives. Ezra is polite through and through, does not give way to anger, and proves himself to be worthy of a mortified Ben’s gift.
Ben (looking to taunt Ezra): The blind beef salesman is trying to help me? I’m actually beginning to feel pretty bad for you Ezra. Because I look at my life and it is surrounded with so much beauty. You can’t see s***. Is that fair? Does that seem fair to you Ezra? Do you even know what color the ocean is? Do you?
Ezra: It’s Blue, Sir.
The Pursuit of Happiness
Takeaway 5: Relentless pursuit of a dream
Based on a true story, the movie revolves around Will Smith’s travails as a homeless salesman along with his toddler son, pursuing an unpaid six-month internship to become a stock broker and carve a better future for him and his son. Father and son shuffle from one homeless shelter to another, wading through unspeakable difficulties. A testament to the qualities of resilience and dogged perseverance. An inspiration for each of us to display these qualities and pursue our dreams.
Takeaway 6: Tip the odds in your favor
Favorable circumstances can make you look good even if you didn’t do anything to earn it. Unfavorable circumstances can make you look bad for no fault of yours. What if you can create your own favorable circumstances? Alex “Hitch” Hitchens makes his living as a date doctor, by helping portray his clients in a good light, creating favorable circumstances, giving men that little push that is required to get the attention of the woman of their dreams.
I think this is a powerful takeaway – life presents several opportunities where we can present ourselves or our case in a good light by skillful and strategic portrayal, thereby tipping the scales in our favor. It is crucial, thought, to be authentic and not deceitful – Hitch, for example, demonstrates integrity by rejecting a nefarious client with questionable intentions.
Takeaway 7: However clever your plan is, Nature may have other plans
While Hitch was a master at his art, helping several clients win a first date with their dream partners, when it comes to his own dating life, Hitch encounters a series of hitches. In our case, when we end up with egg on our face in spite of all our cleverness, strategies and preparations, the best we can do is take it gracefully, affording ourselves a wry smile.
Image Credit: IMDB