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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Marley & Me

If you haven’t seen Marley & Me, but plan to, you might want to stop reading right now. Although, this post won’t be a total spoiler. Besides, doesn’t everybody already know what happens in end?

I followed one particular storyline in the movie far more than I did the main storyline about Marley. I was interested in the journey that John Grogan (played by Owen Wilson) took. At the beginning of the movie John is a small time reporter in Miami covering menial topics. He isn’t happy about that, especially since his wife (played by Jennifer Aniston) is a feature writer for another newspaper and his best friend Sebastian is a reporter who lives an adventurous life, but he figures he’ll pay his dues and he'll got a shot at becoming a real reporter somewhere down the line.

Then one day his boss calls him into his office and offers Grogan a temporary column writing about everyday stuff. He begins to write about the escapades of his lovable but completely out of control family dog, Marley. To his surprise, his column is a hit—not just with his boss, but with the entire region of South Florida. So, his temporary gig becomes a permanent gig.

One of the reasons his boss loves his column so much is because Grogan includes so many of his real life experiences. That isn’t easy for Grogan, especially since he thinks of himself as a reporter, but the money is good, and his wife is pregnant, so he opts for security, figuring he’ll get a shot at doing what he really wants to do in the future.

Life becomes complicated though, as it always does. Between an ever growing family, a dog that is still out of control, and the creeping feeling that his dream is slipping away, Grogan begins to get restless. That’s when he gets a call from the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer offering him a job as a reporter. Jennifer knows he is restless and she knows why so she tells him to take the job and that she and their kids will follow him. It’s a beautiful moment in the movie.

They move to Philadelphia and not long after, Grogan gets called into his new bosses’ office to discuss his first article. His boss tells him that he has too much of himself in the story, which of course is the exact opposite of what his previous boss told him. But he was writing a different type of article, and each type warrants a different style. It turns out that he isn’t all that keen about doing straight journalism.

Throughout the movie Grogan continually dreams about what he really wants and he never stops long enough to realize that maybe his journey has already led him there. Toward the end of the movie, he finally comes to the conclusion that he’s supposed to be a columnist, so he talks to his new boss about writing the same type of column he wrote when he lived in Miami.

I loved this storyline because it was realistic. It wasn’t a straight line or even a crooked line from dream to fulfillment. It was more like a circle, but he had to make the complete circle before he understood what he really wanted. It wasn’t a perfect circle though. His circle took him on a journey that zigged and zagged to places he never planned or envisioned and he only found his true calling when he had strayed far enough off course.

Millions of boys grow up hoping to become an NFL quarterback someday. The vast majority of them never even come close. Some of them eventually become pee-wee or high school football coaches and some of them become sportswriters or sports broadcasters. I bet that if you asked most of them if they were are doing what they were born to do, they would tell you yes—assuming that their journey has taken them full circle.


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