A few weeks ago I watched the French film “The Intouchables.”
I had been wanting to see this movie for awhile – even though I was sort of expecting a weeper.
What I mean by that is – I wasn’t expecting to laugh out loud – frequently – while watching a story about a quadriplegic and his caregiver. Yet I did.
It has taken me some time to figure out why. What about this film turned a potential tragedy into a celebration of life? It is based on a true story. It was a box office smash in its home country. Its main character is a dead-ringer for Dustin Hoffman.
None of that was it.
Nope – as it turns out, what moved me beyond tears to laughter was the sheer impact of one human being showing up as himself in each and every situation. From rags to riches, the streets to lavish boudoirs, subways to sports cars, sweats to black tie, the caretaker transformed everyone he met for the better, often without either awareness or effort.
Driss, the caretaker, didn’t do anything special – in fact, he actually went out of his way not to do anything special, starting with not wanting to accept the job taking care of Philippe.
Yet somehow, once the two were matched, genuine, deep and sustained belly laughter – along with profound and long-lasting transformation in both lives – was the unexpected outcome.
Once Driss was added into the equation, all of Philippe’s challenges became lighter – obstacles, yes, but nothing to get too worked up over. Never once was life’s seriousness discounted or Philippe’s challenges ignored to his detriment, but they were not made the focal point of his life either.
Driss stole my heart with his authenticity. It proved simply impossible not to like – admire – respect – someone who clearly felt all of those things about himself and expected the same in return no matter where he was, who he was talking to, or what they thought about his right to receive any of those things.
Watching “The Intouchables” (from the French title “Les Untouchables” which translates to mean “The Untouchables”) put me back in touch with my own deep longing for personal authenticity.
It also gave me a powerful reason to continue striving towards that goal. Authenticity transforms lives. Authenticity saves lives. Authenticity turns horror into humor. Authenticity restores relationships and heals souls.
Although the film has been out for awhile, it just seemed the perfect post for this still-new year – a time early in the year when it often becomes so tempting to pressure ourselves unfairly just the purpose of “finally” achieving those New Year’s resolutions – which may in fact be resolutions best suited for someone who is not us!
So instead of focusing on resolutions or goals set in some future moment, for this sensitive time early in the year I will be focusing simply on asking myself this one question in the presence of present-day unknowns: “What would Driss do?”
I suspect I will receive some very interesting answers!
Today’s Takeaway: Have you watched “The Intouchables”? What did you think? Can you think of people like Driss in your own life? What impact does authenticity have on your relationship with yourself and others?