I want an adventure this summer; an adventure involving excitement and family, anxiety and joy. Summer is the time to think of great adventures and a great way to challenge the humdrum of our daily existence. Perhaps that adventure is just a little bit of courage away. We Bought a Zoo is a family movie with tearful drama, painful realities, joyful laughter, and a big enough dream to capture our imagination.
Cameron Crowe’s 2011 film starring Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson is loosely based on the real Dartmoor Zoo located in England. Benjamin Mee is an adventure reporter who loses his wife and is left with an incorrigible 14-year-old boy and an adorable 5-year-old girl. Trying to put his life back together and separate himself from the painful reminders of his dead wife, he buys a dormant zoo filled with a skeleton, eccentric crew and live animals. Seeking a new path for his family, he finds his adventure in bringing the zoo back to life while letting go of the pain and anger of loss.
The film is a mature look at loss and struggle when death visits a young family. Crowe demonstrates his ability, like in Almost Famous, in keeping the laughter and joy in the struggles of life while developing our empathy for the characters. The soft lighting, the beautiful shots of the animals, and the music give the viewer the best film experience. The actors bring the narrative together and the audience is swept up in an epic tale full of loss and redemption that ends in satisfying Hollywood style.
The heart of the plot centers on two reoccurring lines from the film. If you are willing to endure 20 seconds of embarrassment, your courage will allow wonderful things to occur. For an adventure to happen and hearts to be open, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there. We have to be willing to go places we have never been and talk to people whom we do not know. We have to believe in serendipity for any great adventure. If the next time you have the gut feeling that closes you up and makes you walk away, ignore it and revel in your courage.
The second line is when someone asks you “Why” you do or did something, you should say “Why not”. If you have not been asked why you did something this week, then find something that would garner this response. The question of why is at the very nature of a new adventure and it comes when you do the unexpected. An adventure, no matter how simple, begs the question and the response can be nothing more than why not. You do not have to explain or prove or justify. You just have to accept the excitement of breaking down the barriers of routine.
Recently for lunch, a post, I Believe in Travel, asks us to do just this. Go and have an adventure that will change your life. Go and open your eyes to new tastes, new sights, new people. You will not lose the familiar, but you just might find yourself, your lust for life, and a new direction. Change comes as a matter of course in life, both good and bad, but adventures are our choice. You might not buy a zoo or kiss Scarlet Johansson’s rocking lips, but you will have a story for the lunch table and know the joy of life is capturing new possibilities.