3 things I learned about life from Bodhi, Louden Swain, and Rambo

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

Like most dads I like guy movies. At various stages of my life I’ve enjoyed  a melancholy drama or an art-house “film”, but as I age I realize that the movies that have stuck in my psyche are the ones with explosions, chase scenes, and “cheesy dialogue”.  

With the passage of time that cheesy dialogue often means something to you – like multiplication tables and long division.

Here are just a few lines that have stuck with me:

1. “Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.” – Bodhi (Patrick Swayze in Point Break [1991]): Bodhi was the surfing, sky-diving, bank robbing, life living anti-hero to Keenu Reeves “Johnny Utah”. While Utah tried to bust Bodhi, he also learned that you have to seize life and make it yours instead of waiting for it to come to you. Because it will. And it won’t be the life of your dreams. “Ain’t it wild!”


2. “My name’s Louden, Louden Swain. Last week I turned 18. I wasn’t ready for it. I haven’t done anything yet. So I made this deal with myself. This is the year I make my mark.”  – Louden Swain (Matthew Modine in Vision Quest [1985]): I was a wrestler. It was all I ever wanted after I watched your uncle Chris wrestle as a kid. As a wrestler I watched Vision Quest dozens of times. This one sticks with me because while Louden says he wasn’t ready for 18, I realize every day that we’re seldom ready for the things that life sends our way. Marriage. Kids. Finances. Sickness. Career changes. Death. But it’s how we respond that matters. There’s this perpetual feeling as a man gets older that he “hasn’t done anything yet.” While its seldom true, I think we’re hard wired to “making deals with ourselves” to make our mark. I think we wrestle with that feeling until we learn about contentment. 


3. [As Rambo walks from the airstrip into the Southeast Asian jungle: ] Colonel Trautman: “How will you live John?” John Rambo: “Day by day.” – Rambo (Stallone in Rambo 2 [1985]). No one was tougher than Rambo. But even Rambo struggled with the unknown of the big picture. So he chose the jungle and a life made day by day. It’s a choice that we all make every day, I think. Because only the smallest fraction of people are given huge inheritances or companies. And the best the rest of us can do is to get through life day by day. That day may be all you have. Make the best of every moment.


I love you,

– Daddy


Sat: none

Sun: Ran 7 miles

Mon: Ran 20 minutes