Sunday, January 04, 2009

Commitment, Mamma Mia, and even Jesus

Here's the third thing about Mamma Mia and why I think it, improbably, works:


A whole lotta people loved the Mamma Mia movie and I think it can be traced back to commitment. Commitment in the face of glaring imperfection.

If you're a performer, commitment means putting aside your insecurities, any worries that you'll look ridiculous, and going in, 100%. It is, metaphorically, stripping off all your clothes -- all the way to the skin -- and jumping into the ice-cold pool. No dipped toe, no towel by the edge of the pool. Make a choice and commit to it 100%.

With one (in my opinion) exception, that's what the actors did. After watching a "making of" on the bonus disk, it sounds like Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan were scared to death, literally having nightmares. But they jumped in. They committed.

Did Skellan Skarsgard likewise commit? Didn't seem that way to me. He looked uncomfortable, stiff, and almost rolled his eyes.

Hey, man. You don't want to be in the show, say No. But if you say yes, say yes with your whole body.

So, I'm thinking a lot about commitment and what we commit to with our words, but not with our whole bodies.

I have been as guilty as anyone else -- saying Yes when I should have said No, then not jumping in wholeheartedly. A lot of time, the lesson here is to not say Yes in the first place.

But if I do ... if I say yes, then like Colin Firth, I want to jump in with my everything.

And if it is something I want to do, I want to put aside my insecurities, put aside my fear that I will look or sound ridiculous. and let myself be vulnerable. Because that's how truth will come out. And that's how excellence will have a chance.

Commitment doesn't equal excellence. Commitment doesn't even assure that excellence will be reached. But I don't believe it is possible to get there without commitment.

(I feel the need to explain everything I'm not talking about. I'm not talking about a lack of boundaries. I'm not talking about unending commitment. "Merely" commitment. Merely 100% commitment to the job at hand.)

I like what Jesus said, quoting from Deuteronomy, about loving God "with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Sounds like he was talking about commitment. He probably wasn't talking about Mamma Mia.

But I bet he would have enjoyed Dancing Queen.


Ann said...

That's just what I needed to read this Monday when I'm sitting at work, procrastinating (by reading my fave blogs) about a tough phone call -- wanting just to dip my toe in, when I need to be taking the plunge.

You WILL be an excellent minister!


Transient and Permanent said...

That Bible quote is posted in big letters on the side of the Universalist Church of West Hartford. Haven't seen the movie yet but maybe we'll check it out.