Two young kids, longing for adventure, meet up in an abandoned house, the lone members of the “Spirit of Adventure” club. They grow up, marry, and dream of traveling to Paradise Falls in South America. But, reality intervenes, and each time their savings jar is filling, a problem occurs, a broken down car, a hospital visit, you know, adult stuff.
Valentine’s Day, ahhh, that one day a year that many people dread, feeling the need to consume, spend, PROVE their love. The origins date back as far as AD496 when Valentine of Rome was martyred for marrying couples that the church did not believe should be married. Throughout the ages, February 14 became honored as the day of love, becoming about romantic love in England in the 18th-century, and has since evolved into an occasion of cards, flowers, and chocolate.
Jim and I have never been great at Valentine’s Day. More concerned with romance and love on a day-to-day basis, we have scorned the card giving and expensive dinners out for years. This year was no different but for one thing, I broke tradition and purchased us a special treat.
The Pixar movie UP is, perhaps, one of our favorite movies ever, featuring adventure, travel, talking dogs, and one of the sweetest love stories of all time. Who can not be moved by Carl and Ellie’s story? Even as they age, and their dream of South America fades, they never lose their deep love for eachother, holding hands in nearly every scene.
In the hospital, shortly before her death, Ellie is looking at “My Book of Adventure”, her scrapbook of dreams from their childhood, but Carl, grief-stricken after her death, simply puts it away, high in a closet. Declining into old age, fighting developers over the sale of his home, he is saved by young Russell, an aspiring outdoor explorer, who has never actually explored much of anything.
I won’t get into details because, truly, it is a movie everyone should see, but let me just say they end up on a grand adventure to Paradise Falls, discover their new best friend, Dug, the talking dog, save a species, and bring down a tyrant. Along the way, Carl discovers all the hopes and dreams he and Ellie shared, still burned bright within him.
Does this sound familiar? Did you start out life energetic and inspired, ready to conquer the world? What happened to that dream? Did life get in the way? Did you fall into the trap of following the rules society sets for us; college, job, marriage, house, kids, believing that someday you would be rewarded for your hard work by having the life you really want handed to you?
It’s not too late. What Carl discovered, at the end of his adventure, was Ellie’s adventure book had remained intact. Upon further inspection he realized over the years she had added to it, realizing that the quest for Paradise Falls was not the only adventure worth documenting, but also their wedding, their vacations, building a home together. On the last page she had written, from her hospital bed, “Thanks for the Adventure, now go have another one” Love, Ellie.
Because of a lonely boy named Russell, and a talking dog named Dug, Carl was able to have that new adventure, fulfilling the dreams he and Ellie shared. What better love story is there? My hope for you, is to use the romance of Valentine’s day to make a better life story. Make your life worth being called an adventure. As the commercial says “When your life flashes before your eyes, make it worth watching”.
As for us – well, we did what we do every day. We commuted home together, talking over our day. We were greeted by Porter, doing his particularly joyful happy dance, and an ever happy Aspen. After a long family walk, we had some cocktails, a nice dinner, and watched UP. And we went to sleep, as always, holding hands. Now THAT is my kind of day, whatever date the calendar says.