I love how God creates events in our lives to remind us of what’s important. Saturday’s events taught me a new way to appreciate the honor of being a good husband. My part time job as a limo driver has put me in a few wedding gigs, and as usual, those usually create an environment where I’m thinking mostly of my wife, our wedding day, and the importance of my maintaining the same love for her now as I felt that day.
That night, I rented a movie called The Big Year with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black. It’s a cute story about three guys in different stages of their lives who all love to “bird.” “Birding” is another term for bird-spotting, and the main event of the story is who can spot the most birds in a calender year, a competition otherwise known as The Big Year. It wasn’t that funny–actually, the intended funny parts were pretty stupid–but it really hit home on an emotional level for me.
Within the plot of who would spot the most birds was an excellent story about balancing pursuit of one’s dreams with spending time with one’s family. Steve Martin plays a man who likely has one more shot at winning The Big Year. He’s on the verge of retirement, he has a loving wife and halfway through the year becomes a grandpa. His character arc is learning what is really important to him. Owen Wilson, playing the antagonist, is a cocky defending champ and world record holder for the competition, but struggles with this obsession of maintaining his title in the midst of a wife who is not feeling loved. In between these two sides of the spectrum is Jack Black’s character, who observes both of these men and meets a lady along the way, thereby forcing him to determine a value on birding and love.
Owen Wilson is constantly putting his wife second to his obsession (despite the fact that he already lost one of his other marriages during a past Big Year competition), but justifies his behavior because he is afraid that if he isn’t remembered as being the Big Year all-time record holder, then his life is meaningless. The application for writers is fairly obvious, as we all have a tendency to think that if we don’t write the next great American novel, then we’re wasting our time. Yes Owen was good at what he did, and birding isn’t bad in and of itself, but the consequences of obsessing over work or hobbies at the cost of forsaking our loved ones are tragic.
Watching this movie, and being around newly weds both helped remind me of the importance of honoring my commitment to my wife, and then to my work as secondary. Sunday afternoon, my wife was tired and had a headache. I try not to work on Sundays, but that usually doesn’t mean I’m not doing a bunch of little things (whatever that means). Well, after watching one of our shows, Rachel (my wife) fell asleep on my shoulder. I was reminded of a scene in The Big Year where Owen Wilson had to choose between his wife and his competition. I let Rachel sleep as long as my body would let me, neglecting emails and other stuff I “needed to do” so that she could sleep. It felt great to show her that she is first and I adjusted my laptop to take a picture that will remind me of that feeling… but I’ll keep that one in-house. You can use your imagination by picturing what this would look like in your life.