Thursday, January 19, 2012

Seven Days in Utopia

Although Robert Duvall has never recaptured the magic of Augustus McCrae, his portrayal of the old Texas Ranger in Lonesome Dove makes me want to watch any movie he is in. But this is about a movie and a book. The book was originally published as Golf’s Sacred Journey, but republished using the movie title. Don’t stop reading if you are not a golfer. There are many more compelling reasons to read the book and watch this movie. Lucas Black is just one of them. We watched him in Flash more than a dozen times with the grandkids, and he was also great in All the Pretty Horses. Remember his line “Because I’m an American”?

Dr. David L. Cook has written a spiritual book that is not afraid of religion. If you a cynic, check out his credentials and the golfing greats who endorse his message. It seems that Hollywood has stained religious entertainment with a stigma worse than extreme profanity and borderline pornography. I applaud everyone associated with the book and the film for their courage in going against the entrenched ideologues in Sillywood.

And this is one of those rare cases where the movie is slightly better than the book. Although Lucas plays a pro golfer, the messages here are applicable to our lives in many other ways. I felt a special affinity for both because they explore more boldly the theme I tried to touch on in Rivers Flow, my first novel. Some may find Seven Days a little sentimental, possibly even hokey, but pay close attention to the message. That message is slimmed down to three letters: SFT. In my first novel, it’s one word: Flow. Here’s an excerpt from Go Down Looking (due in May) where Jake looks back on earlier times: “And what had happened to the Rivers’ flow, that high plane of experience my ancestors had told stories about? Flow is a mysterious power that many experience, but nobody can explain. If you believe in it, no explanation is necessary. If you don’t, no explanation is possible.”

Most of us inevitably ask ourselves the big question when we reach the age of maturity: “Why am I here and is this what I am supposed to be doing with my life?” Some know the answer; most don’t. I didn’t, so I started trying to find out. In one of the many seminars, retreats, etc… I attended trying to learn the answer, I was given an assignment on the last day. “List the times in your life when you did something as well as it could be done, times when you performed above your loftiest expectations.” While fellow attendees scribbled away, my pen stayed still. But on the way home and for several days afterward, the memories came. In my case, a lot of the first memories had to do with sports—surprising for a mediocre athlete. But as I wrote, I found that those experiences appeared in other areas of my life, and that more importantly, they could be repeated. Seven Days illustrates that point in a well-told story.

Still skeptical? Read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience from an author whose credentials far exceed mine.
More from Go Down Looking: “It was during one of those kicked-around occasions that I decided to ask for help, to try and find the flow again and to finally understand it. It didn't come with thunder and lightning or as an immediate epiphany. It took hard work, lots of mentoring, lots of reading, lots of listening, and a lot of blind alleys, disappointments and confusion. Mostly, it took commitment. Lights finally began to come on. And I knew that I was being guided. Things that I had learned began to make sense. The legend became scientific fact. Papa Griff and Rance became wiser. This time, I think I understood that flow was not just a gift for the Rivers, but a God-given gift for anyone who would take it.”

And no, I did not forget to tell you what SFT stands for. Watch the movie. Read the book. And while you are at it, read mine, too. Find it here. Shameless self-promotion? Guilty.


J A Hunsinger said...

Lonesome Dove was one of my all-time favorites, too. I love that kind of writing.

Charlotte Hilliard said...

Well, on this one I will have to do some thinking. There have been times in my life that I have reached a pinnacle but I'm going to have to do some remembering about what, where and when it was.
I know when I've had the 'flow,' it has felt wonderful.
Thanks again Jim for making my mind work.