Revelations at The Lego Movie

It surprised me, finding such depth in an animated film, one I went to just to please the kids.

Aside from the impressive lego creations and the way the animation made everything come alive, there was meaning not so hidden in the words and the trajectory of the storytelling. When I see great writing, and meaningful messages, I am heartened. That’s what life is about, really, finding meaning in the mundane.

I’ve said it for years, a mantra for my own writing, and once a man I knew told me how stupid he thought that was. Too bad, I remember replying, it’s what drives me.

My first thought was that the movie itself was about meditation – emptying your mind, having visions, trusting your instincts.

The story focuses on finding The Special – the one person who can save the world by putting an end to tyranny and control. We learn by the end of the movie that in fact the prophesy of The Special was entirely made up – but that in fact every single person has the potential to be The Special in some meaningful way.

“The only thing anyone needs to be special is to believe,” says the wizened, white-haired and white-bearded prophet. Are we in a Bible story?

This returns me to the notion that all mystical, spiritual storytelling is essentially the same – from the same deep place, feeding the soul, nourishing the core of who we are and who we will be.

Ultimately, when the animation gives way to real people in the movie, it becomes immediately clear that it is the adult who lacks imagination and insists on rules and order. The child is the one with energy and creativity and imagination – who enjoys life, who has passion.

The ordinary, everyday construction worker is the hero who saves the world. He dares to reach out to the lonely evil bad guy, Lord Business, looking him in the eye and telling him that he, too, is special, worthy of letting go and living life.

I don’t remember who says it, but the line goes: I can see everything. I am a master builder. 

He releases every “micromanager” on staff at the evil headquarters and takes the hand of the hero. “You can still change everything,” the hero says, and the bad guy softens, knowing it is true.

A kids’ movie? I think not. The brilliance of children’s films is that we can access a place we, as adults, have long ago abandoned.

It is the place of clear light and understanding and true sight. It is the place of creativity and daring and adventure. It is the place of safety as much as it is the place of daring.

Places we adults fail to visit.

It’s too bad that our goal in growing up is to fall into a life of routine and ordinary expectation. Familiarity. That we need parameters and boundaries in order to thrive.

Yes, in a way, we all need that.

But don’t we also need the freedom to create, to imagine, to dare to be different?

Don’t we all realize by the time we reach adulthood that none of us ever fit in, really, and that is the beauty of being who we are, independent, individual, wonderful?

The other day, I sat in my kitchen nook with four other moms while our 13 children ran around in all the rooms of my house. Someone asked me how, knowing me today, I could have ever been a devoutly religious person. It just didn’t jive with the picture they had of me at this moment.

Well, I said, I never felt like I fit in the world where I grew up. I thought I might fit in a more spiritual place.

The woman looked at everyone else sitting around us and said, “Did any of you feel like you fit growing up?”

Every shook their heads.

A world of misfits.

Perhaps we all do fit, just by being who we are. If only the world could embrace individuality – if only we could – then perhaps we wouldn’t have to venture so far in order to find our true selves.

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