Life Lesson’s Learned From Pixar

Even though Pixar has had some bumps in the road, I have to admit I’m a fan-boy, and have been since my happy ass left Toy Story on opening day back in 1995.  I remember we got there late so I had to sit front row looking almost straight up the entire movie.

As the years have passed I’ve eased up on bashing the competition (just ask my sister how many times I talked trash about any Dreamworks animated movie she liked), but I still think Pixar is the king of the animated film.

(P.S. My sister didn’t cry at all during Toy Story 3, so clearly she has no soul and her opinion should not be counted anyway)

To most these are probably “just movies,” and I can’t really pin down why I’m so deeply obsessed with them.  But each of them has a warm and fuzzy place in my heart and here are a few reasons why.

To Infinity and Beyond

I hesitate to type out what I’m about to type in fear of sounding over dramatic… but that phrase may be the most beautiful words ever put together.  When I watched Toy Story as a kid it was just some snazzy catch phrase Buzz Lightyear said.  A few years later I’m sure it registered in my brain as something similar to “giving 110%”.

As an adult I’ve found it quite pleasant to sit and dwell on the phrase.  Limitless +.

We are taught from a very early age that life has limits and boundaries.  To infinity and beyond, especially in Buzz’s delivery, is a proud refusal of limits and boundaries.  It says priority number 1 is to reach the unreachable (infinity), and priority number 2 is to continue past that.  What an epic message to be etched into the minds of a generation.

What seems unreachable to you now?  Bust your ass, get there… now go past that. 🙂

That Wasn’t Flying, That Was Falling With Style

And immediately following Buzz’s big “To Infinity and Beyond” scene you get this gem, and my personal favorite.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years it’s been falling with style, aka fake it til you make it.

There is something magical that happens when you just jump off the bed thinking you can fly.  You find yourself using all available resources to help you do just that.  Whereas had you known you were just a toy you wouldn’t have ever tried or noticed all things and people in your life that could help.

Get this.  When the idea of starting a podcast was brewing in Mike Bledsoe’s brain I had never owned a real camera or edited video with real video editing software.  I volunteered to film and produce it.  I used some savings to buy a camera, used a credit card to get a Mac/editing software and faked it.  I’m not a producer, I’m a faller with style.

We Scare Because We Care
And then there is Monsters Inc.  I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this movie…  In theaters, on dvd, on blu ray, on the cloud, re-released in theaters in 3D…

The lesson here aren’t learned from just the quote alone.  I’m going to assume you’ve seen the movie, and if you haven’t and don’t want it spoiled then skip this one.

At the end of the movie the monsters learn that how they have been harnessing energy (by scaring kids and capturing screams) could be improved (by humoring kids and capturing laughs) in a mutually beneficial way.

A few lessons here…
When presented with new and better information you have to be willing to make a change.
You’ll live a much happier life if when dealing with multiple parties you always set up win-win’s.
But the one I like the most plays into the first one and  that is:  you can’t identify yourself with who you were yesterday or what you’ve been told you are to be if you want to make a change.

Yesterday you were a monster, and you did what you were told all monsters were to do: scare… “because that’s just what monsters do.”  At some point you start to feel bad for scaring kids, and want to make a change.  But since you allow your entire identity to come from being a monster  you’ll never try being  funny.  Even if you and you’re entire universe could directly benefit from you being funny, you’ll never go learn to tell jokes because “that’s not what monsters do.”

So then if you want to make that change you have to become not a monster.

(Otherwise you’re liable to swing far the other way that you create a scream extractor.)

Are there any changes in your life you could make for the better but don’t because “that’s not me”?

Just Keep Swimming

Finding Nemo!  This one is to the point.  You’re going to have you’re bad days, you’re going have your horrible days, you’re going have days where your heart is ripped out because you lost your only child or worse.  And when those days come you need to force yourself to be optimistic and keep on keeping on.

While that is clearly the message I think it falls flat when put into practice because on those days it’s probably going to be too damn hard to be optimistic.  So knowing that you probably won’t have the willpower to be optimistic, do the next best thing (what Nemo’s dad did) and surround yourself with someone who is.

Adventure Is Out There

Up.  I wish I had been given a disclaimer before seeing this movie.  “Warning: You will need a full box of tissue 5 minutes into the movie”.  Hopefully my sister cried during this one, or I’d be extremely worried.

The lesson here is that your dreams, wildest imaginations, and adventures are all “out there.”  They are just waiting on you.  It’s there all the time, but you have to be proactive.  You must be willing to engage with the world around you, and explore new things.

If you don’t feel like your life is an adventure, it’s because you haven’t been proactive in getting there.  Seriously.  Like seriously seriously.

Anyone Can Cook

Ratatouille.  And if your “this is all hokey bullshit meter” isn’t at an all time high yet, here’s this tasty nugget.

Said simply anyone can do anything.  Just figure it out.  It doesn’t mean you’ll be world class or the best, but if there is something you want to do, go learn it and do it.

Enough with looking at someone else and saying “I wish I could do that,” we have Google now.  Type in what it is you wish you could do and figure it out.  It reminds me of a great Steve Jobs quote: “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you”.  It’s not that these people are smarter than you, they just took the necessary steps to figure things out.  So get to steppin’.


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