joy and fear

Joy Is More Powerful Than Fear

One of my all time favorite movies is “Monsters, Inc.”, which Pixar released on November 2, 2001.   The movie was a hit at the box office and has earned over half a billion dollars in sales.

I first saw the movie on the small screen.  I brought a VHS tape of “Monsters, Inc.” home with me after work one evening.  My clan gathered around the television in our family room and I popped the movie into our VHS player.  For you youngsters, the VHS format preceded Blu-ray, Netflix and ROKU.

I found myself laughing out loud at the short video, “For the Birds” that preceded “Monsters, Inc.”.  “For the Birds” was so entertaining that I had very high expectations for the quality of the main feature.

“Monsters, Inc.” was and is a superb movie.  It didn’t take long to become captivated by characters such as Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan (Sulley).  Little Boo melted my heart.  Who can forget the ever effervescent Rox?

The dialogue was clever and the visual images were spectacular. The movie received an academy award for the original song, “If I Didn’t Have You”.

“Monsters, Inc.’s” message was simple, yet profound: laughter and joy is much more powerful than screams and fear.

I have personally observed on many occasions that joy and laughter is indeed a much more formidable force of nature than fear.  For example, many years ago I coached my daughter Stephanie’s softball team (i.e. Simon Construction). The girls were all around 12 years old and they were very competitive.  There was one team, however, that we had never conquered (i.e. Sons of the Legion).

The Sons of the Legion team was undefeated in both league and tournament play for over a year.  They beat us by 5 runs the first time we played them that season.  During that game, my players were wound extremely tight and none of them were enjoying the game.  A few of my players were even crying.

As the season progressed I could see that the girls were not looking forward to facing Sons of the Legion for a second time.  The rematch was scheduled for a Saturday morning and my wife suggested that we have a slumber party at our house the night before the game.  This was an inspired recommendation.

About a dozen girls arrived at our house around 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, with their sleeping bags and pillows in hand.  They watched movies, sang, laughed, ate a few gallons of popcorn, and sincerely enjoyed each other’s company.   They didn’t actually begin to slumber until well after midnight.

The next morning the girls filled their stomachs with lots of chocolate waffles and milk.  After eating the healthy and nutritious breakfast we all caravanned to the ball park.   The team was tired, but happy and relaxed.

After two innings it was apparent that Sons of the Legion was going to lose their first game of the season.  To this day, I vividly remember coaching third base and listening to the constant sounds of happiness flowing from my team’s dugout.  The girls were not saying anything derogatory or demeaning to the other team, they were simply encouraging their team mates while at the same time thoroughly enjoying life.  The final score was: Simon Construction 24 – Sons of the Legion 12.  Amazing things happen when joy supplants fear.

In honor of Father’s Day, let us all pledge to do our very best to fill our homes with joy and laughter.  Also please try to minimize and, if at all possible, eliminate screaming and fear from your family dynamics.  Your children are worth the effort.