“Me Before You”, “A Tear-Jerker Film That Hit Close To Home

I saw a movie today that made me cry so hard. It was about a middle-aged man who was living a pretty great life until he experienced a tragic event that changed everything for him. It was called “Me Before You” and much of it reminded me of what I’ve been going through myself in recent years.

The film begins with an extremely good-looking man named Will Traynor (played by Sam Claflin) who is just starting his day in a very upbeat way. It’s apparent how good his life is by his home surroundings, his attractive girlfriend, and even the clothes he puts on to go to work. But suddenly his playboy life changes in the blink of an eye when he’s hit by a motorcycle during a heavy downpour heading on foot to work and becomes a paraplegic.

The story picks up two years later with his family looking to hire someone to help keep him company, as he has been more despondent than not with anyone or anything ever since his tragic accident. Enter Lou Clark (played by Emilia Clarke), a quirky young woman just looking for a job after a recent layoff at the diner she worked at. With her family pressuring her to help support the household by a currently laid off father, she’s willing to take anything in a town where jobs are scarce. So when an opportunity arises to be a caregiver for the local very-wealthy Traynor family, she jumps at the chance, but assumes it’s probably for an elder man. Little does she know that it’s for Will or that his mother has an ulterior motive behind the person they’re looking to hire. Will has signed a right-to-die contract for a euthanasia in Switzerland, but promised his parents he’d give his life six more months before making the final decision. His mother secretly hopes that the woman they hire, that being Lou, will somehow change his mind and give him a reason to go on living during that time.

While I know I’m not paralyzed nor confined to a wheelchair like Will was in the movie, I could relate to all the pain and anguish he went through day after day after day, trying to cope with a life he never wanted or ever imagined he’d be living.

Not too long ago, I was living a similar life to Will’s, except for one thing. I couldn’t seem to free myself from falling into one addiction after another. So in a humble-moment one afternoon, after falling prey to yet another time of toxic behavior, I got on my knees and asked God to bring me through whatever I needed to go through to be free from all the addictions, toxins, impurities, and energies that kept me from being the person God wanted me to be in this life. In that moment, I truly was open and willing and ready to go through whatever I needed to, to make that happen. Little did I know though that my life would change dramatically not too long after that prayer, as I would become plagued with many different pains and ailments.

And similar to what Will experienced in the movie, there has been no amount of medications, loving company, holistic healing, volunteering, or the like that has been able to truly bring a consistent smile to my face or warmth to my soul. Yet, years later, there is one thing that has sustained me from giving up like Will wanted to in the film. It’s God and I have remained faithful to God even on many days when the pain has been so great I’ve wanted to curl up in a ball and die. Why? Because I believe God has a plan for me that’s not meant to end with this.

But I must admit that sometimes I think if euthanasia did exist here in our country, I might have already gone down that path myself on days when it’s harder to exist than not. But yet, I don’t believe that’s the path I’m meant to take. I don’t believe that God has allowed me to go through all this, just to end up being taken care of by someone else for the rest of my life. I also don’t believe that God’s plans for me involve being medicated and numb just to keep going. So I wait with hope and I have joy in that hope, joy that one day soon things will be far better for me and that’s where my path diverted from that of Will’s in the movie.

Without God, I think I’d probably already be dead by now given what I’ve gone through all these years. But I must say, seeing this movie truly was like seeing a snippet out of my own life and all the difficulties I go through just to make it through a single day.

Nevertheless, “Me Before You” was a strong tear-jerker film that truly did hit very close to home. While I’m grateful I’m not paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, I related so much to Will Traynor’s struggles throughout the entire movie. Living with intense pain or any serious handicap is not easy, especially when others don’t know how it feels because they’ve never gone through it themselves. So I encourage all of you to be thankful for what you have, especially if you’re not currently suffering with any serious handicap or daily pain, because there are people out there just like Will and myself who do and who have uphill battles to face with each living breath. But if you do struggle like Will or myself, know you’re not alone and know there is one who can sustain you through it all, and that’s God, for I’m living proof that even in the darkness, there is light…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Blue Man Group And The Inner Child

When I was kid, I regularly used to make a lot of strange noises with my mouth, do funny faces and poses, create messes in all sorts of ways, and produce percussion-like noises with whatever and wherever I could. Watching Blue Man Group is a lot like that and almost feels as if you took a visual trip back into your childhood during their 90-minute performance.

My partner actually took me to see them for my birthday this year. If you’ve never gotten the chance to this eccentric show, I highly recommend it for one reason. It really does bring out the inner child in you.

The show itself is about three individuals who are completely dressed in black clothes, are colored dark blue from head to toe, and show childlike emotions and fascination through a spectacular display of lights, video, sounds, props and more. There is so much off-the-wall kid-based humor throughout their act that it makes it nearly impossible to not laugh during the majority of it.

Ironically, this was actually my second time seeing them perform in the past decade, but I enjoyed it even more this time around. Not only because the show has evolved and become even more fun since the last time I saw it, but also because the company I was with was far healthier for me than my last go around when I spent it with someone I was seriously addicted to.

Nevertheless, I’m always grateful to find new ways to get in touch with my inner child because of how important it is to never lose sight of the kid that lives within me. Far too often, too many push that part of themselves down, they grow up, they act like big, strong adults, and they forget all about that little boy or girl who still lives deep inside them. I often tend to believe that’s where much of the world’s sadness comes from in life, because so many neglect getting in touch with this part of themselves the older they get.

That’s why I do my very best these days to make time for my own inner child and I tend to feel much better in life when I do. So I encourage you to not only do the same, but to also go see The Blue Man Group if you ever get the chance, and allow that kid within you to have 90-minutes of child-like fun, as I’m sure you won’t regret it!

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Miracles From Heaven”, A Tear-Filled Movie For The Soul

Have you ever watched a movie that touches you so much it moves you to tears simply because it resonates with something you’ve either gone through or are still going through? “Miracles From Heaven” is an example of one that did that very thing for me when I saw it in the theater about a week ago.

The film is based on the true story of 10-year old Anna Beam (Kylie Rogers) who lives with a rare, incurable disorder that renders her unable to digest food. But despite the grave situation of Anna’s illness, her devoted mother Christy (Jennifer Garner) relentlessly searches for a way to save her daughter’s life. Unfortunately, she only seems to encounter one disappointment after another along with an ever-increasing amount of bills. As Anna’s hope slowly dwindles away and her health continues to deteriorate, so does Christy’s faith in God. Yet it is God who has the final say because one day a very sick and tired Anna decides to climb her favorite tree one last time and ends up falling some thirty feet, landing on her head. When she awakes later in the hospital, she begins to show signs of recovery from her fatal condition and has an inspiring message for her family about her condition that she says comes from God.

“Miracles From Heaven” is definitely a faith-based film as you can tell and it comes as a time when I most needed it. I love going to see movies like this because they move my soul, especially when it’s during a period of my life that has been filled with so much despair. Given the difficult journey I’ve been on with my own health, all my pains, and my suffering, I related greatly to Anna’s struggles. Probably the closest moment I felt to her pain was when she told her mother she was ready to die and go home. I’ve been in that spot so often in the past year of my life, and I’ve seen my faith in God waver a lot as well. Yet, “Miracles From Heaven” showed me that there’s always hope, not only because of Anna’s miracle, but also because of all the people along the way that God used to make that miracle happen.

So if you’ve ever struggled with something for a long period of time or are currently going through a great struggle in life, I encourage you to watch this movie. It will inspire, uplift, and move you to tears, all the while reminding you that there is a Power out there greater than ourselves, who does still perform miracles. I truly needed to see this movie as it gave me enough hope to not lose my faith and to keep trusting in God for another day…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Are We What We Watch On Television?

I’m asked all the time what shows do I regularly watch on television and every time I respond they rarely seem to be the ones everyone else seems to be watching. If you pay attention to the Nielsen ratings to see what the majority of the population is currently tuning into, you’ll see it’s primarily programs that mimic real life. But that’s precisely what I don’t want to see when I sit down in front of my television and turn it on.

Look, life in general in our world is already filled with so much violence, scandal, gossip, judgment, dysfunctionality, and the like. So watching programs that endorse greater amounts of that only stresses me out even more than what’s in the news these days. This is why I tend to be drawn mostly to shows that are in the genre of science fiction or fantasy. But even then, I don’t watch every single one that falls under either of those genres. Instead, there’s a theme that I’m constantly drawn to with what I follow on the small screen and that’s the “good versus evil” or “light versus dark” concept.

This is probably why I tune into all those superhero-based programs on television, as that’s generally what their themes are about. And I always feel the more I watch them, the better I feel about my life. Sometimes I think that’s because I was brought here to help fight the darkness that pervades our planet and do what I can to replace it with light. Unfortunately, I got distracted from that goal for a very long time due to all the addictions I used to succumb to. But thankfully that’s not where I’m in life anymore.

Regardless, I tend to wonder if who each of us are inside can often be identified by what we regularly watch on television. Can we easily become that which we watch? Psychologists have been theorizing lately that the people who go on these shooting sprees could be due to all the violent programming on television nowadays.

While there really isn’t proof yet for any of these speculations, my spiritual teacher has reminded me time and time again to really be careful of what I watch myself. So I do. I’m very careful to only tune into things that I find uplift me. Because the last thing I want to do is move backwards in my spiritual journey by allowing myself to watch things that make me feel angry, fearful, or more negative.

Nevertheless, I feel this is definitely something to ponder. So I leave you with these questions for that reason. What do you watch regularly on television? Are any of the undesirable traits of the shows you follow the same one’s others sometimes see in you? And who do you really want to be in life, as to become that, could it involve tuning into different programming that’s more supportive of that goal? I truly hope you take the time to muse over these questions and I wish each of you well on your spiritual journeys…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

“Race”, A Jesse Owens Inspired And Inspiring Movie

There have been many famous Olympians throughout history who’ve left a lasting impression upon our world, some of which I’ve been grateful to see leave their mark and others who came along way before my time. But one who still seems to stand the test of time was a humble African-American man by the name of Jesse Owens, who won international fame with four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. While there have been many other athletes since then who have won just as many medals if not more, what makes Owens story so special was his rise to fame in a time when the color of one’s skin mattered so much to people.

I can honestly say I didn’t know much about Jesse Owens life before heading to the theater recently to see the movie “Race”, which chronicled much of the highlights of his athletic journey to stardom. But when the film’s closing credits began to roll, I couldn’t say that anymore. What I could say though was I now understood why his life’s events were so important to not only the United States, but ultimately the world.

The movie begins with Owens, played quite well by actor Stephan James, saying goodbye to his family as he becomes the first person to head off to college. It’s overly apparent though once he arrives there at his alma mater of Ohio State University (OSU), that others don’t like him or even want him to be there, solely due to him being black. Yet there is one who does look beyond it and embraces Owens, as well as his talent, and that’s Larry Snyder, the coach of OSU’s track and field team, who’s also played quite well by actor Jason Sudekis.

The film goes on to highlight the growth of Snyder’s and Owen’s relationship, including the training that led up to Owens setting three world records and trying a fourth during the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, MI on May 25, 1935, all in the span of 45 minutes, which is a feat still unbroken to this day. While this made Owens a hero to many of his own race and even helped to begin breaking down some of the barriers between whites and blacks in our country, it’s what the movie covers next in his life that helped to change the world and that was his decision to go to Berlin for the 1936 Summer Olympics. As then, the games were being held in a city just as Adolph Hitler was coming to power, who as most know was a man profoundly against Jews and blacks. “Race” then does a superb job showing how Owens would go on to leave his mark there, with a world about to enter a war due to blatant racism and persecution, by winning four gold medals. But even more importantly, as the movie ends, it’s pretty clear that Jesse Owens also would leave a lasting mark within his own country by letting us all know that there are for more important things in life to reflect upon than the color of one’s skin.

I give “Race” four out of five stars and highly recommend it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Oscar’s Lack Of Diversity

Anyone who knows me even a little already knows that I have a huge love for movies. Yet there’s one thing most of them probably aren’t going to know about this love of mine and that’s how much I’m disappointed with this years Oscar nominations that were just announced last week.

If you’ve tuned into the news at all lately, then you’ll most likely know why I’m disappointed. Spike Lee and Jada Pickett-Smith have been the most outspoken about it for the same reason as I, and each has already pledged to not attend the Oscar ceremony this year because of it. I don’t blame them given the fact there isn’t a single nomination this year in any category where the individual is non-white.

Look, I watch a lot of films, some of them are great, some not so great, and some pretty terrible. But within them all there has been a wide diversity present from Black to White to Latino to Asian to well, I’m sure you get my point. But the ones I and so many other movie reviewers who saw as a great this past year, that also had that very same diversity present within them, were totally overlooked for this years Oscars.

I find this extremely frustrating given some of the talent I saw this past year emerge in film including from movies such as Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, and Beasts Of No Nation. Yet none of them obviously made enough of an impact with the Academy who are the ones that actually guide the Oscar nomination process.

This seems so ironic to me because if there’s one place I feel that diversity would absolutely show up in, it’s Hollywood. But I continue to see how most of the movies being made are geared for straight white actors and even when one of them is essentially made for mostly non-white actors, it tends to be forgotten about when the major awards season rolls around.

I often think Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X would have a tremendous amount to say on this appalling lack of diversity if they were alive today. And how many people just like them have worked just as hard to help make our country become the equality-based melting pot it is. Yet, it seems as if there still is quite a bit of inequality going on and maybe even some passive racism because things like the Oscars seem to continue catering to an all-white society.

And truthfully, it shouldn’t have to be so groundbreaking when an actor or actress of color gets a big award nomination and ends up winning it. With the diversity our country has, shouldn’t it just be a regular thing to see plenty of them receiving nominations and ultimately winning? Alas it doesn’t appear so, at least not with the Oscars when you take a look at them throughout the past few decades.

So I don’t blame Spike Lee or Jada Pickett-Smith for taking the stance they are with this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. While many are saying they’re being overly dramatic and too radical, I say good for them for taking a stance to prove a point. And while I am a white individual, I can safely say I’m tired of everything being so whitely-run. I truly believed that Obama becoming President might have been the tide we actually needed to finally move in a more equal direction. Unfortunately, it looks as if we still have a lot of work ahead of us in this country and it begins with things just like the Oscars.

The bottom line is that God didn’t create an all-white world. God created a beautiful melting pot of many different races, where some of which have an incredible talent to act and deserve to be recognized for it. While it’s too late for this year’s Oscars to see that happen, I’m hopeful that all this frustration being aired by so many in Hollywood right now might actually create some momentum for next year’s. But even more importantly, I’m even more hopeful that one day our country and our world for that matter, will truly start honoring the diversity it has within it. Because in all honesty, don’t you think that God would want that for us as well?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Concussion”, An Eye-Opening Film About The Biggest Danger Of Football

I’m not that big of a fan of football, regardless of whether it’s high school, college, or pro. Sure, I might watch the Super Bowl each year or follow the records of various teams here and there, but in all honesty watching people pummel each other on a field with such incredible force over and over again honestly isn’t my cup of tea. With that being said, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed watching Will Smith’s latest football-based movie titled Concussion.

The film is based on the true story of a Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Smith), who uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions throughout the course of their career. Omalu is a forensic pathologist in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania who begins to learn of this disease when he is tasked to do the autopsy on former Pittsburg Steeler center Mike Webster who died at a relatively young age (50 years old) with little to no signs of anything wrong in his body. After finding nothing during the standard autopsy, Omalu uses his own money to run a battery of medical tests, convinced there’s something more going on. Eventually he discovers through some of those results the damage Mike Webster’s brain suffered during his career, as well as the disease itself, which he goes on to name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). When other NFL players begin to die in tragic ways similar to Webster, Omalu realizes through their autopsies that the disease is far worse than just one isolated case. With the help of former Steelers team doctor Julian Bailes (played by Alec Baldwin), it becomes Omalu’s quest to expose the dangers of football to the NFL and to the world itself. But to make that happen, he also faces an uphill battle with an organization that really doesn’t want the world to ultimately know any of those truths he found.

The reason why I enjoyed this movie so much is that it felt much like a David and Goliath type story with David being Omalu and Goliath being the NFL. And while I have seen many other football-based films before, this was the only one that never actually took place on the field itself. Instead, it focused more on the off-the-field heart-wrenching stories of both the players who were suffering from CTE, as well as of Omalu, who experienced such backlash in each of his attempts to make such a terrible disease known.

Sadly, I learned by the end of this movie that almost a third of all pro football players will eventually succumb to this disease. That’s a hefty price to pay for such a small number of years bashing helmets against each other repeatedly. Maybe that’s why I never have enjoyed football much because I don’t believe our bodies were ever made to endure such an amount of blunt force again and again. I feel similarly about most violent sports like boxing and hockey. But unfortunately, the fact remains that even with the amount of disease and injury that a mind and body might go through playing any of these high contact sports, and even with actual proof of it coming from doctors like Omalu, people will still continue to play them, because of the rush of the win, the cheers of the crowds, and the glory their ego sustains through it all.

I myself am grateful that those things never beckoned me enough to pursue any of those sports, especially football. Because at my 6’5”, 170-pound frame, I probably would have sustained a permanently injury with my first contact hit. Nevertheless, Concussion truly sheds light into one of the biggest downfalls of the most popular sport in America, and Smith has definitely emerged as an awards front runner once again for his incredible portrayal of Omalu. Overall, I whole-heartedly give this film 4 out of 5 stars and strongly recommend it as a must-see…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Spotlight”, A Phenomenal Film That Uncovers Priest Sexual Abuse

Having once been molested at a very young age by the coach of a swim and dive team I once was a part of, I came to understand just how much pain, horror, and agony comes afterwards from something as terrible as this. With that being said, I was reminded of much of what I went through all those years ago when I saw a movie named “Spotlight” the other day.

Spotlight is a 2015 film about The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” investigative team that uncovered the decades long pattern of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in Massachusetts, as well as the Boston Archdiocese efforts to keep it concealed.

Watching the efforts that the Catholic Church went through to settle the sexual abuse cases outside of court for years was hard enough, knowing the ones that truly got hurt would never find peace through any of those small cash settlements the church gave them. But then seeing the Church also shuffled those abusive priests around to other churches in other dioceses for years and knowing those patterns only repeated themselves with more children was even harder to watch.

The work that the “Spotlight” team went through to bring all this to light was most certainly a daunting effort with so many hurdles faced along the way. This was depicted quite well in the movie itself by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, John Slattery, and Liev Schreiber.

The one thing that I related to the most throughout this entire movie was the testimonies that many of the abused gave. In fact, I was moved to tears more than once as I heard them talk about being paid attention to by a priest and initially how good it felt. This was how I eventually got molested as well, because no one ever paid much attention to me as a kid, that was until this middle-aged man saw how broken and confused I was in life and began offering me what I so needed and wanted. But tragically, I fell prey to him and suffered for more than a decade afterwards because of it, no different than all those they depicted in this movie who were molested by priests.

Ironically, I once met a priest almost a decade ago now who told me of some of the horrors he saw back before all this sexual abuse came to light. He said there used to be “boy parties” where innocent children were passed around between priests and bishops for sexual favors. It was really challenging for me to hear this, knowing what I went through. I can only imagine what it was like for all those children to have such innocent faith in God and then have that be stifled out by the actions of the closest thing they knew to God at the time, which was those priests or bishops.

The sad reality for any of those who get sexually abused at a very young ago by someone else is that many never come back from it. Some end up killing themselves, others choose prostitution for a living, while many succumb to a life of drug and alcohol abuse. Thankfully, God led me away from all of those dark paths to become strong enough, not only to talk about what I went through to help others heal, but also to be able to sit through this movie that in many ways was like reliving my own tragic experience.

So in the end, I’m very grateful for the team of people who created the movie Spotlight because I believe it can and will be healing somehow for those who ever suffered from sexual abuse. I hope you may take the time to go see this film, as it truly is phenomenal and most certainly will garner favor during awards season…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“The Shack”, A Book About Finding One’s Way Back To God

It’s interesting how things come into my life when I’m ready for them. I say this because many years ago, I was recommended by a number of people to read a book titled The Shack. But knowing it was hyper-geared towards Christianity and given I still had some serious reservations with Jesus and the Christian religion, I constantly avoided doing so.

That all started to change a few months ago though when I reconfirmed my life with Christ and began asking for guidance and direction from Him on a daily basis. And wouldn’t you know, the suggestion of reading this book came up again not too long after this, except this time, I actually did.

The Shack is a novel by Canadian author William P. Young and is about a man named Mack who loses one of his five children to a serial killer during a family camping trip. In the process, he also loses his faith in God as well. But when a note appears in a bizarre way in Mack’s mailbox one day from “Papa”, whom he often referred to God as, inviting him to come to the shack where his daughter was actually murdered, Mack sets out to prove whether the note is real or not. The rest of the story is all about Mack’s difficult journey back to a life of faith in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

What I loved best about this book is how hard it was to tell whether it was fiction or non-fiction. Young did a superb job writing a novel that truly made me wonder if the events of the story were actually real or not. Regardless, as I read each of its pages, it was so convincing that I too felt as I was on my own spiritual journey back to a life of faith, which indeed I honestly was and still am.

So if you happen to be someone who might have lost your faith in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit for whatever the reason, like I myself did for a good long while, I encourage you to read The Shack, as you might just find it leading you back into the Light, just like it did for me.

Peace, love, light, and Joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“The Walk”, An Exciting And Inspiring Film About A Daring Tightrope Act

I have some pretty fond memories of the World Trade Towers from my youth. Going to the top of them was always a fun thing to do as a kid and I did it many-a-times because of that. But one memory I don’t have from back then deals with something that happened between the two towers in 1974 and that’s only because I was two at the time. It was on the morning of August 7th of that year that Philippe Petit performed on a tightrope between both towers for over 45 minutes. And now 41 years later, his journey to that precise moment is chronicled quite well in Robert Zemeckis’s moving film, The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit.

When I first saw a preview of The Walk and learned what it was about, I wondered if they had enough material to keep viewers interested for its 2+ hour running time, especially when every single trailer only showed the extreme height of the towers and Petit balancing over the edge of one of them. But indeed, Zemeckis worked his magic once again, like I felt he did in the movie Flight with Denzel Washington. Spending much of the film focusing light-heartedly on Petit’s youth and how he became interested in doing his actual tightrope acts, I never found myself getting bored one bit with his screenplay.

While Joseph Gordon-Levitt may not have looked much like Pettit from the pictures I’ve seen of the actual Frenchman, he does do an absolutely superb job with his French accent and French dialogue. I also greatly appreciated watching Ben Kingsley play Petit’s mentor, Papa Rudy, who was the one that specifically taught him how to master the art of walking a tightrope.

What I liked best about The Walk though was the actual drive and inspiration that Philippe Petti had in life. Not once did he ever waiver from his dream to cross between the two Towers, even as he faced one difficult obstacle after another. And through it all, he still found a way to surpass such incredible odds and do something no other man ever did.

With so many of us giving up on our own quests in life all too often, especially when the going gets as rough as it does sometimes, Petit showed us that even the impossible is possible. This is why I’m thankful I took the time to watch this movie because it was a great motivator and reminder to not give up on the quest I’ve been on for the last bunch of years with my health and healing.

So if you are looking for an exciting and inspiring film, I recommend checking out The Walk. Robert Zemeckis has done such a fine job within it resurrecting both towers through the magic of Hollywood and helps to remind us through the eyes of one man named Philippe Petit, why they were so majestic in the first place. Oh and one final suggestion, watch it in 3D if you can, as the special effects definitely make you feel as if you are right there on the tightrope alongside Petit himself…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

What Do You Usually Watch On TV Before Going To Bed?

Do you regularly watch the same thing on television just before going to bed? This is a question I began asking myself when I saw my partner was tuning into the same program night after night just prior to falling asleep from the moment I met him.

From the onset, I found it rather funny when I saw him tune into The Golden Girls every single night just before he hit the hay. But as time went on, the more I realized there was a greater meaning behind this for him. It was a show that he and his mother used to constantly watch together when she was alive and now many years beyond her death, he still finds great comfort tuning into the reruns of this lighthearted and uplifting show.

Personally, I was never much of a fan of The Golden Girls, even with its good messages it often portrayed. Not that I thought it was a bad show because it wasn’t. In fact I thought it was well written. It just was never my cup of tea. But there was a television show I did like from not too long ago and it’s one I still tune into just prior to my own bedtime on many-a-nights. And that’s the well-known program that ran for a decade by the name of Friends.

I’m not sure why I’ve always found comfort in this show, as there isn’t anything from my past that I can remember that would fondly connect me to it. The reality is I’ve just found it very comforting late at night to watch the humor within each of its episodes, especially with Ross whom I’ve liked and related to the most since its first season.

Maybe it’s the laughter Friends always invokes within me that drives me to tune into episodes I watched and re-watched again and again. Or maybe the TV series just reminds me of a time when my life seemed far simpler. Regardless of the reason, I find it quite soothing to laugh at the silliness and antics of Friends late at night, especially on so many days as of late when I’ve been blue more than not.

The bottom line is that I think it’s extremely healthy to make sure I end each of my evenings doing something that either brings me happiness or joy. And while I continue to do that through puzzles, coloring, reading, and writing, I also frequently achieve that through something as simple as watching an old episode of Friends.

So it’s my hope that you might be doing the same, ending your evening on a cheerful note as well. And if by some chance, that’s through a television program, then maybe you’ll leave me a comment and share what it is you like to watch just prior to falling asleep and why…  🙂

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Everest”, A Tragic Factual Film That Can Still Inspire

There are some movies that are truly uplifting and I love writing about them. But there are also a few that are truly tragic that I occasionally like to write about as well and “Everest” is one of them.

Everest is the true story about an expedition up the famed mountain and centers around Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and his climbing company, Adventure Consultants. On May 10th, 1996, him and a team he’s leading are making their final ascent to the top when tragedy strikes in the form of a sudden and violent storm. Faced against some of Mother Nature’s harshest conditions imaginable, each fight for survival hoping to make it off the mountain alive.

I’ve watched plenty of similar movies over the years about the sport of climbing that include Touching the Void, Cliffhanger, and K2 to name just a few. But Everest was a little different for me given that I knew the fate of each of the climbers ahead of time, with their story being based on actual events. Yet watching it I still found myself hoping somehow they would all survive and wondering myself what I’d do if I ever had to face those incredible odds at such high elevations.

While I’m pretty sure I’ll never know, seeing that I don’t ever plan on ascending Mt. Everest in this lifetime, I do have to say that throughout the movie I found myself comparing my own journey in recent years to what was unfolding on the screen. Over the past five years or so, I’ve been climbing my own Mt. Everest of sorts, one that has been all about ascending out of the darkness, despair, toxicity and life of addiction that I lived for most of my life. There have been plenty of times though when I’ve wanted to give up, just like many climbers have done when ascending Mt. Everest. But even when those tumultuous weather conditions have battered and tore so many of those climbers apart and when the lack of oxygen beckoned many of them to give up, a few have still defied the odds and made it to the top and back down. I see this so similar to my own journey as of late as there have been far too many days when the conditions of my life have done the very same to me on the ascent of my own Mt. Everest. But so far I haven’t given up and neither did several of those climbers in the movie.

Take Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) for example. It was his thoughts of his wife and kids that helped him to survive, even with all the odds were stacked against him. In my case, it’s been my constant thoughts and connection to my Higher Power that’s kept me going. Now I feel I’m right there just at my own summit, with only a few steps left before I begin my descent and although the “weather” has been battering me day in and day out telling me to turn back, I know my Higher Power is absolutely going to help me finish this journey.

In the end, I found the movie Everest to be somewhat inspiring, even in the midst of the tragic ending it had for several of the climbers, as it helped me to see that even though so many have failed to make it to the top of the magnificent mountain, there have been those who did defy all those unbelievable odds and experienced triumph and glory because of it. I’m going to be one of those with my own Everest, all thanks to God. I just can’t give up and I’m thankful that this movie reminded me that some do make it, even when facing the worst of odds.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Proof”, A TNT Series That Asks, “Is There Life After Death?”

Is there life after death? That’s an age-old question that countless numbers of people have wanted to know for thousands of years. It’s also been the premise of TNT’s new summer television show appropriately titled “Proof”.

I was skeptical at best when I saw an early preview for this new series mostly because I’m a firm believer that something exists beyond this plane. What is it? I don’t know. But I didn’t really want to tune into a weekly fictional drama that might be slanted towards proving an afterlife doesn’t exist. I’m happy to report that wasn’t the case.

“Proof” stars Jennifer Beals as Dr. Carolyn Tyler, who is a very skilled heart surgeon incredibly dedicated to her career. After being initially approached by billionaire Alan Turing (Matthew Modine) and told he’s cancer-stricken and desires to know what happens after one dies, she indicates she really doesn’t know. That’s when the viewer sees a quick flash of her own near-death drowning experience (NDE) from years ago. When Turing says he wants to hire her to investigate cases to discover whether there’s actually life after death or not, she instantly balks at the idea and graciously declines. Like many of the doctors she works with, Carolyn tends to believe in science and fights the idea that anything beyond death even exists. But when her boss, Dr. Charles Richmond (Joe Morton), strongly suggests she aid Turing in whatever he needs solely because of the money Turing plans on investing into their hospital, she reconsiders for him. After accepting Turing’s offer, she then forms a team consisting of Dr. Zed Badawi (Edi Gathegi) and Janel Ramsey (Caroline Kaplan), who together go on to explore various events and instances of possible life after death.

Probably the most fascinating element of this new series is the fact that Dr. Tyler has her own hidden agenda. Not only because of her own NDE, but also because she lost her son in a car accident when she was driving the two of them some years prior. Struggling to move on and forgive herself, she hopes to find out whether her son lives on in some afterlife or whether his death was his ultimate end.

While I’ve never had an NDE myself, nor had any experience of seeing ghosts or anything else beyond this plane of reality, I’ve done enough research over the years to feel there’s got to be something beyond this life, I just don’t know what it is. Watching “Proof” reminded me of many of the books I’ve read about this subject and enthralled me completely through each of its 10 episodes.

There are plenty of moments where I’ve wished myself that I had my own proof of an afterlife, especially as of late over my frustration with all the pain I’ve been going through for so long now. But alas, I’m in the dark like most of us are here and do my best to live my life with faith that hopefully something really is beyond this life. Whether my Higher Power chooses to ever reveal any of that to me during the rest of this existence or not remains to be seen. Until then, I’m going to continue watching well-written television shows such as “Proof” because it shows like this one that ultimately help me to keep the faith that life after death truly does exist.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Sense8”, An Exciting, Original Netflix Series That Bends Your Mind

I’ve been hit or miss when it comes to the films done by the Wachowski siblings. If you’ve seen The Matrix or either of its sequels, then you’ve already witnessed as I have, the incredible originality from them as both writers and directors. I felt the same sense of awe with them when I watched Cloud Atlas as well. But I became somewhat disenchanted after watching their work in Speed Racer and Jupiter Ascending. This is why I had very mixed feelings when I heard over a year ago that they were collaborating with Netflix to create a new scripted television series peculiarly titled Sense8. But I’m happy to report now, just over a year later, that I’ve actually finished watching season one and thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of its 12 episodes.

While I’m not sure if I can truly do Sense8 the justice it deserves without spoiling anything, I will say that it took me at least four of its episodes to become completely hooked. The series begins with the scene of Angelica Turing (Daryl Hannah) sitting on an old mattress in a very run down church, looking very much like a junkie. Suddenly a man named Jonas Maliki (Naveen Andrews) appears and tells her she knows what she needs to do to save the others. She immediately pulls a gun out and holds it towards herself when another man named Mr. Whispers (Terrence Mann) abruptly shows up and tries to convince her not to do it. The viewer at this point has no idea whether these men are actually there with her or are simply figments of her imagination. But when Mr. Whispers walks into the church a few minutes later with several armed men, Angelica takes her life and we’re led to believe she was just a crazy person. Shortly thereafter her death though, 8 people from around the world begin getting visions of her and of each other, as somehow they’re now all connected. When they begin to realize just how connected they can become with each other, they also find themselves being hunted one by one by the very strange Mr. Whispers who seemingly has unique abilities himself. The viewer is then catapulted into a series that’s filled with everything from action, to an edge of your seat thriller, to comedy, to a heart-filled drama.

I must make a point to say that Sense8 really does a wonderful job representing and connecting so many different types of people to each other through its main cast of 8. They all come from various ages, races, creeds, colors, sexes, national origins, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations. Capheus (Ami Ameen) is a black man from Nairobi, Sun Bak (Doona Bae) is an Asian woman from Seoul, Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) is a transgender woman from San Francisco, Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) is an Hindu woman from Mumbai, Riley Blue (Tuppence Middleton) is an Icelandic female DJ living in London, Wolfgang Bogdanow (Max Riemelt) is a German male locksmith and safe-cracker living in Berlin, Lito Rodriguex (Migeul Angel Silvestre) is a closeted Spanish actor living in Mexico City, and Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith) is a male police officer from Chicago. Ultimately I believe this is how all television shows and movies should be, giving us a great picture of the entire diversity that our planet has become.

When I finished watching the last episode of Sense8, I was glad that the series helped to reinforce one of my own spiritual beliefs, that somehow I too am connected to everyone and everything here on Earth. And while there may be some science fiction and fantasy elements drawn into this show that go a little beyond those beliefs, I’ve always felt that each of us here can tap into the energy and resources from each other to help us all grow closer to the Light.

So if you happen to be looking for an exciting and original show that does a superb job demonstrating not only how we all are connected, but also representing so much of our world in an unbiased way, then I encourage you to check out the Wachowki’s Sense8 on Netflix. Doing so might just bend your mind and leave you thinking, and also wanting more. (Note: Netflix gave the green light already for Season 2!)

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Amy”, A Documentary About The Tragic Life Of Amy Winehouse

Watching the movie “Amy”, a documentary about the life of eclectic singer Amy Winehouse, was quite challenging for me. While the film itself was an incredible montage of the fractured life she lived, it was also a harsh reminder of all the people I’ve sponsored or known in recovery that never made it.

Lately it truly seems as if people are dropping like flies inside and outside the recovery world, each dying from self-inflicted causes that could have been prevented by getting some help through the 12 Steps, therapy, or some other self-help outlet. “Amy” is no different, as it’s an extremely stark portrayal of just one of the many who have gone down that road, avoiding doing any work on themselves and instead hoping their problems would just go away on their own. This is specifically why I was against going to see this movie because I see this time and again, week after week through my life in recovery. But, due to a promise I made to my partner that I’d go see it with him (Amy Winehouse is one of his favorite all-time singers), I reluctantly headed to a local theater about a week ago to catch a matinee of it.

I must say it really was difficult sitting there in my seat seeing Amy Winehouse avoid the issues that plagued her the most, one mainly being a mostly absent father from her childhood. What was ironic though, was that when her fame began to grow, her father took a more active role in her life, but from what mostly appeared to be purely selfish interests. In fact, one of Amy’s most well-known songs is “Rehab”, which originated out of her father telling her she didn’t need to go to one and that she’d be just fine.

What I didn’t know about Amy’s life was that she also suffered from bulimia since the age of 15. That condition combined with her alcohol and drug issues, as well as the emotional demons that plagued her silently from within for most of her life, eventually took its final toll on her at 27 years old.

The documentary really does a fantastic job showing all the things I see on such a regular basis nowadays in my recovery from addiction life. So many come into the rooms and hope for a magic cure, wanting a wand to be waved and all their own demons to suddenly disappear. I too would have loved that to happen, but it never did and I only grew worse waiting for that just like Amy did.

Alcohol and drugs, and many other addictions are great temporary relievers of pain, but they also inevitably only lead to one conclusion, death. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones, having learned there is freedom from addictions, as well as mental and emotional disorders, but it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, Amy chose to avoid doing that and instead numbed herself from all her pain until it took her life in 2011.

Watching this film, it was easy to want to blame all her problems and her ultimate demise on her dad or a number of other things like the toxic guy she dated and even married or the pressures of being famous. But the sad truth is that the only person who could have changed any of it was Amy and she never tried to. Instead she clung to codependent relationships and simultaneously submersed herself into her music and alcohol and drugs. The most intensely painful moment for me though while watching her life on the big screen was when she went up on stage in one of her final concerts and was so drunk she couldn’t even sing. Hearing the boos from an audience who had no idea just how sick she was spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically was quite hard to swallow.

Until someone either goes through what Amy went through themselves or encounters it with a very close friend or loved one, they’re never going to understand just how tough it is to battle addictions and/or mental disorders. Thankfully I’ve endured both and find myself getting a little emotional now as I write these final words, thinking about all the wonderful souls like Amy who never were able to rise above them. My only hope is that more people will try to understand, will go see more movies like “Amy”, and will stop judging and blaming what they think causes deaths like hers.

The fact will always remain that the only person who can ultimately change any of it, is the person who’s sick. They have to be the one who seeks help. Regrettably Amy did not, and neither did four of my former sponsees who died in similar fashion. My heart and prayers go out to all those like them who have perished like this, especially you Amy Winehouse, because you truly had such a beautiful gift that blessed so many like my partner. While I’m sad you’re gone now, I am grateful to say I understand a little better some of the pain you went through during your life, all because of a well-done documentary named “Amy”.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

“Me And Earl And The Dying Girl”, A Bittersweet Movie About Life

My high school memories aren’t ones I’m particularly fond of and I normally don’t ever dwell on them primarily for that reason. While I have come to terms with that period of my life and been able to let all the pain go I experienced back then, there are movies and television shows I still occasionally watch that clearly remind me of a time of my life that was extremely difficult. One such movie that did just that to me recently was “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl”.

The film is about a senior named Greg (Thomas Mann), who considers himself quite the loner. He has only one friend named Earl (RJ Cyler) yet has never been able to call him that because of the seriously low opinion he has of himself. Sadly, this has led him to do whatever he can for years to keep a low profile and stay invisible everywhere, especially at school. One such way has been to avoid eating his lunch in the cafeteria where the dozens of cliques run rampant, none of which he feels a part of. Instead, he eats with Earl everyday in one of his teacher’s office and there usually talks of nothing more than the hobby he and Earl have done for years. Both have actually been making home movies that are parodies of real life cinema since childhood. One day though, a wrench is thrown in Greg’s boxed-in world when his neurotic mother (Connie Britton) tells him that one of his classmates (someone he barely knows), Rachel (Olivia Cooke), was diagnosed with cancer. She first guilts him into contacting her by phone to offer his company, and then a second time to actually go over to her house, when Rachel refuses his initial offer. From the time he steps foot in her home and meets both her and her mother Denise (played by a very funny Molly Shannon), it’s obvious that the whole situation is very awkward for both. But after Earl tells her the truth about his mother’s guilty coercion, a very sweet and occasionally sorrowful story begins to unfold, as the two become the oddest of friends.

While “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl” was mostly about Rachel’s unraveling of Greg’s rather lonely and depressing view of the world, I related more strongly to the life he had before she began to play such a big role within it. Back in my own high school days, until I became a chameleon and did a full adaptation into the coolest clique, I had only one friend myself, and his name was Jason. I mostly played basketball and Nintendo with him and never quite felt like I fit in anywhere. I thought I was ugly, felt no one cared about me, and absolutely despised the cafeteria where I was either totally ignored or bullied. Watching Greg in this film loathe himself in so many ways distinctly reminded me of how I once was. Thankfully though, I don’t feel that way anymore and was able to find an immense amount of gratitude in how much I’ve grown, all by watching Greg in the movie.

But regardless of having to relive some of my own high school drama, I would definitely recommend seeing “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl” and give it four out of five stars. Its bittersweet story, the depth of acting, the well-placed humor and the creative imagery used throughout it shows why it’s already garnered top honors from the Sundance Film Festival and probably more later in the awards season. And oh, by the way, if you wondering why I didn’t give the movie the full five stars, it’s only because I’m not a fan of sad endings. 🙂

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“God’s Not Dead”, An Uplifting Movie About A Young Man’s Faith

If you were given a task to prove that God is not dead, could you do it? That’s precisely the premise of a movie I just watched, appropriately titled exactly that, “God’s Not Dead.”

The movie is about a college philosophy professor named Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) who’s a very devout atheist. Each and every semester he asks his students to write the words, “God is dead” on a piece of paper and then to sign their name below it, solely to prevent them from having to go through the age-old debate of whether God exists or does not. He makes a very strong case as to how difficult it will be for his class to discuss this topic if they choose to not sign the waiver and further indicates it will be 30% of their grade. In contrast though, he promises everyone an “A” for that portion of the class if they do sign it, of which everyone promptly does except one individual, a freshman named Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) who’s a very devout Christian. Radisson attempts to strong-arm Josh into signing it but to no avail, leading him no choice but to assign him the arduous task of proving to him and the class that God is not dead, thus creating the primary context of this movie.

While I don’t want to spoil the interconnectivity of all of the subplots that go on throughout the film, there’s one specific thing I’d still like to comment on. Professor Radisson argues a point that almost every atheist I’ve ever met has done with me as well. He asks Josh that if God exists, then why does God let bad things happen? His answer is one that I’ve come to know myself from my own spiritual journey and that’s the fact that if I were given an easy and constantly rewarding life, why would I ever have the desire to seek God? There’s great truth to those words because I never did seek God much at all during all those years I had hoards of money and close to perfect health. But through the major financial losses I’ve incurred and the health struggles I continue to endure, I’ve sought God in every way possible. But have I received proof of God’s existence through any of it? Well I’m going to take a page in Josh’s book here and say this instead of answering the question directly. While I may not have received any irrefutable proof yet that God exists, I haven’t at the same time received any that God doesn’t exist either. But what I do know is that it ultimately comes down to a choice. I can live a life of free will or I can live a life of faith.

Nevertheless, I must say that this movie did have an overly religious tone to itself, one that I might normally balk at. But ironically, overall I was extremely moved by it, so much so that I chose to pray and reaffirm my devotion to God and the unconditional love of Christ by the time it ended.

So I’m sure some will continue to take me or my review of this film the wrong way, believing I’m really just turning into another religious nut, but the truth is, I’m actually quite far from becoming that at all. In all honesty, what I am becoming is a firm believer that I can connect to God and the unconditional love of Christ through any number of ways, one of which was something as simple as watching “God’s Not Dead”, which I wholeheartedly recommend you do as well…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

Pixar’s “Inside Out”, A Delightful Film That’s All About Our Emotions

I’ve been a big fan of many of Disney’s Pixar movies over the years including all three of the Toy Story’s, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Up, The Incredibles, and Cars. The realistic animation and uplifting story lines of each even moved me enough to purchase them for my home DVD collection. But now I know I’ll need to add another one to that collection when it eventually arrives on DVD and that’s Pixar’s latest film, which is titled Inside Out.

Inside Out is an interesting tale about a girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and the emotions that live within her, where each has their own unique personality: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Residing in the headquarters of Riley’s mind, it is they who are responsible for handling every situation in her life and helping her to form her memories, of which are all stored in small spheres that produce a certain color depending on the emotion attached to the memory itself.

Joy’s sole duty is to make her happy, while Fear’s is to keep her safe. Anger’s main job is to help her stand up for herself, while Disgust’s is to steer her away from things she doesn’t like. And last, but definitely not least is Sadness, who’s actually totally unsure of her primary responsibility and instead feels the only thing she really does is make a mess of everything. But how each handles all the circumstances of Riley’s life becomes far more evident when her parents uproot her from their hometown of Minneapolis and move to San Francisco due to her father’s job. As it is there in San Francisco that Riley faces many of the pains we all face when growing up, including loneliness, rejection, embarrassment, and despair. Unfortunately, Joy does everything she can to take control of Riley’s life, trying to constantly keep her happy, which only leads to a mishap with core memories when Sadness touches one of them. The adventure the two emotions take deep into Riley’s inner world to correct the calamity they created is what makes this movie truly original and refreshing.

What I found most fascinating and ironic about Inside Out is how my own emotions ran the entire gamut alongside Riley’s. I found myself feeling her joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear and honestly, that’s precisely why I loved this film as much as I did. What’s funny is how my partner and I kept pointing the fingers at each other during the entire movie at some of the specific ways each individual emotion acted, because we clearly saw ourselves in so many of them.

The fact is I laughed, I cried, was occasionally irritated, at times nervous, and even became a little repulsed while watching Inside Out. But it wasn’t until afterwards did I realize that’s pretty much how my own life ultimately is, so maybe that’s why I absolutely treasured this priceless gem of a movie like I did.

Pixar truly outdid themselves this time and I without a doubt give this film my best rating of 5 stars. When an animated picture about emotions can produce the exact same ones within me that ranged from explosive laughter to profuse tears, it’s relatively easy for me to say there’s definitely a lot of that Disney magic imbedded within Inside Out…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

PS – And don’t forget to stay for the credits, as I’m sure you’ll be laughing out of your seat then too! My personal favorite was the final scene with the cat…

Saying Goodbye To Unspiritual TV Shows

I watch a lot of television shows and I mean A LOT. Over the course of a year, there are probably 30 or so that I’ll tune into. Some I’ve been following for a long time, while others I’ve picked up more recently. But I became aware of something lately that precipitated a change in this area of my life and that was to stop following shows that no longer feel like they mesh with my growing spiritual values.

Most of the TV programming I follow nowadays is either science fiction or fantasy based, with two notable exceptions of a recovery from addiction sitcom named “Mom” and a Sherlock Holmes show named “Elementary”. Except for those two, there are a number of others I’ve been watching for awhile now that I no longer have any interest in, mainly because they aren’t generating any good spiritual feelings within me after viewing them.

The last thing I want to do is watch something on TV that promotes unhealthy behaviors like gossip, greed, envy, jealousy, backstabbing, violence, lust, ego, fear and more. I find that when I’m watching programs that glorify these things, I tend to slide back into those behaviors or become more negative in my overall attitude in life.

This is specifically why I stopped watching “The Originals” on the CW recently. The show centered on a vampire named Klaus who was constantly afraid of people taking away his power. Week in and week out his only concern was to protect his perceived power through conniving and killing. I grew quite weary of the unnecessary bloodshed and ego from him and others in the series and finally decided I had enough.

Since removing this show, I’ve felt so much better and gone on to do the same with a few others too. I definitely plan to continue this behavior from now on. After all, following a television show week after week, year after year, hoping it’s going to get better is a lot like staying in a relationship with someone who’s toxic and not working on themselves, all the while living with the hope they’ll eventually get better, but never do.

As for the TV series I’ve chosen to stick with, well, the truth is each of them are about people that are trying to do good in this world, who regularly play a hero that always attempts to save the day and protect the innocent. Shows like The Flash, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Forever, and Daredevil are the first ones that come to mind, and while each may carry some violence, their overall theme is about saving the world from the darkness that exists within it and bringing about more light.

The bottom line though is that I don’t want to watch programs on TV anymore that leave me feeling more irritable and frustrated, or anything else that’s not healthy for me. I’d rather spend my time tuning into the ones that help me to feel better about myself, that truly uplift me, and lead me further down the spiritual path I’m doing my best to remain on in life…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Parallels”, A Great Mind-Bending Sci-Fi Pilot Movie

Imagine for a moment if there existed infinite Earth’s, where each was slightly different from each other. This was the basic storyline of a 2015 movie titled “Parallels” that I watched on Netflix the other day, which vaguely reminded me of a television show I once watched back in the 90’s named “Sliders”, as it had a similar premise. By the time the movie ended, my brain was left pondering one thought. If there really were other versions of each of us in alternate realities, what would they be like?

Parallels is definitely a mind-bending 90-minute film that ironically was originally created as a pilot for a new television show. As of the time of me writing this though, it appears the standalone movie on Netflix is all that exists, which seems to be a major disappointment for just about every user’s review of it that I saw on the Internet. Regardless, its concept is definitely geek material for a science-fiction fan like myself.

The movie begins with estranged brother and sister Ronan and Beatrix Carver (Mark Hapka and Jessica Rothe) receiving cryptic messages on their cell phones from their father. Upon returning home, they run into each other and have no idea why their father even summoned them home. After all attempts to locate him come back empty-handed, they head out to the garage where they find a backpack in the trunk of his car. Within it the only thing out of the norm that’s found is a strange metallic orb. Meanwhile one of their neighbors and long ago friend, Harold (Eric Jungmann), has joined them and it’s overly apparent he hasn’t connected with either of them in years. The three of them eventually decide to go to the address left to Ronan and Beatrix on those mysterious voicemails where they find nothing but an old rundown and abandoned building. Ronan, being the most rebellious of the three, quickly enters its dirty main glass door entrance and proceeds to call out for his father to no avail. The others follow him in where they soon see bizarre graffiti-based messages scribbled on just about every cement wall. A loud alarm then begins to sound, along with a flashing bright white light, causing Beatrix to panic. She immediately leaves the building, followed by Harold and Ronan, only to discover they’re now standing in the city they left, except this one is desolated and demolished, apparently having been wiped out by a nuclear bomb. Thus begins the real adventure of this mind-bending sci-fi pilot movie.

After Parallels ended, I yearned for more only to sadly learn it hadn’t been picked up to series yet. Nonetheless, it left me pondering this idea of the existence of infinite parallel Earth’s, where each was slightly different from the next. So what if my Higher Power really did create not just one Earth, but countless Earth’s with numerous versions of all of us. What would I be like in each of them? While the movie at one point demonstrates some of that concept, I thought about all the various incarnations my own personality has gone through so far in this lifetime.

I’ve been the heterosexual closeted guy, the alcoholic, the sex and love addict, the corporate greed-based jerk, the preaching deacon, the annoying sports jock, the silent monk, the controlling Bed and Breakfast owner, the gambler, the hoity-toity world traveler, and plenty of other negative personalities as well. I can’t imagine being any one of them now, especially not for an entire lifetime, yet that is precisely the idea Parallels hypothesizes. Frankly, I’m truly grateful I’m not any one of those personalities these days but in all honesty, I’m also unsure of exactly who God has me becoming nowadays either.

Nevertheless, I’m quite content with this unknowingness of my future, because I’ll probably change personalities a dozen more times before I die. So thankfully, I was able to appreciate the great mind-bending sci-fi storyline of Parallels, because I realized I don’t ever have to be any of my old spiritually unfulfilling alternate realities ever again…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Hallmark Channel’s “The Good Witch”

Television is filled with such a wide variety of fictionalized programming these days all scattered across hundreds of channels. But even with so many choices, there seems to be less and less I find myself tuning into. That’s only because most normally focus on things I can read about in the news everyday or they constantly glorify one or more of the “seven deadly sins” of greed, gluttony, lust, pride, anger, envy, or laziness. Thankfully, there are some shows though that come along every now and then that truly uplift my spirit and provide me a breath of fresh air, like Hallmark Channel’s “The Good Witch”.

Ironically, this new 2015 series did not originally begin as a weekly scripted one. It actually started in a 2-hour movie format dating all the way back to 2008. But somehow I totally overlooked each of them, even with all the television programming I watched during all those years. Maybe that’s because The Good Witch’s spiritual principles were on to the opposite side of the spectrum from where I was living during most of that time. Regardless, I set my DVR to record this new show after I caught a quick preview of it one day about a month ago, as well as each of the seven prior movies leading up to it.

Since then, I’ve watched those movies, as well as every episode of the new series, where each been about a unique woman named Cassandra Nightingale (Catherine Bell), who always seems to live by a spiritual code that’s far different than everyone else’s. The show takes places in the fictitious town of Middleton, NY, with Cassandra (nicknamed Cassy) being both the owner of The Gray House (a historical building and sometimes bed and breakfast), as well as the Bell, Book, and Candle (an odd variety shop where its guests always seem to find just what they need in life).

What I have enjoyed most about The Good Witch so far is how Cassy consistently has looked for the positive in everyone and everything, no matter how difficult the situation appeared to be. Even better has been the fact that not once has she claimed herself to be a witch. Instead, she’s just lived as a very mysterious person who frequently seems to knows things before they happen, as well as knowing exactly what a person needs to keep them on the spiritual path that’s for their greatest good.

I know many may be put off by the use of the word “witch” in the title of this show, but truly, it really is wholesome programming that focuses on good spiritual principles. And while the cast may have changed slightly from the seven annual movies to the series, the core premise remains the same, that of a feel-good nature. So if you’re looking for something on television to watch week to week that will uplift you, rather than depress you or make you angry, try watching The Good Witch, as I’m quite sure you’ll find happiness in it just as I do…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Cinderella”, A Movie About Being Kind And Having Courage

I think just about everyone has probably seen the original Disney 1950 cartoon movie “Cinderella” or at least know the story of it by now. After all, it’s been portrayed and reimagined so many times through various incarnations over the years, both in film and on television, including some of my personal favorites such as Ella Enchanted and Ever After, that you’d be hard-pressed not to know it nowadays. So I honestly didn’t think it possible to come up with another heartfelt and moving vision of the famed girl named Ella, but team Disney seems to have gone and done it again in creating the 2015 movie titled “Cinderella”, which truly inspired me to be kind and have courage.

This creative re-telling of Ella’s (Lily James) fabled story begins by showing us a little more about the childhood she had growing up. We get introduced to her very caring parents who constantly surrounded her with incredible amounts of unconditional love, which helps us to understand why Ella becomes the person she does.

I believe there are certain moments in each of our lives that very directly shape our futures, and Ella has one of those when her mother (Hayley Atwell) lay dying but still makes sure to remind her to always be kind and have courage in life, which indeed is what Ella strives for from then on. Even when her lonely father (Ben Chaplin) eventually asks for her permission to bring a widowed mother (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters, Drisella and Anastasia, (Sophie McShera and Holiday Grainger) into their home, Ella remembers her mother’s words and chooses to honor them.

She first decides to give up her bedroom for Drisella and Anastasia when they arrive, and even graciously accepts and embraces her new stepmother’s request for Ella to live in the old and drafty attic while all the bedrooms supposedly get a slight overhaul. Sadly, it’s not too long after this that her father dies during one of his many trips away and it’s then that she begins to see the true wickedness and selfishness her stepmother and her two daughters bring.

During one of their particularly cruel treatments of her, Ella’s heart just can’t take it anymore so she rides off in tears on one of the horses deep into the woods. It’s there she unknowingly meets the Prince (Richard Madden) who’s on a hunting excursion, as he disguises himself under the name Kitt and says he’s only an apprentice. A brief playful and romantic moment is shared between the two and rest of the story is then played out quite similar to the original.

What I was charmed most about in this modern retelling of Cinderella was how she truly did embrace each and every one of life’s situations no matter how difficult they were, with that same kindness and courage. It really was a great reminder for me in life given the health issues I’ve been facing for a while now. Sometimes my ego drives me during my many moments of pain to not be kind and to run away in fear, but I realize Ella’s approach is the one I know my Higher Power would want me to have. Hence the reason why I felt this new movie was exactly what I needed to see the other day in the theater, because it brought about a much-needed inspiration.

So if you’re looking for something that will remind you about the importance of always being kind and having courage in life, no matter what you’re circumstances, I encourage you to see the 2015 remake of Cinderella, because in the end, I’m sure you’ll leave the theater as I did, uplifted and filled with a greater amount of those very things.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Project Almanac”, A Time-Traveling Movie That Makes You Wonder

I’m sure that many can say that a time travel plot for a movie has been totally played out for awhile now. “Project Almanac” is the latest one to enter this genre and try for a different spin within it á la found-footage. While many of the nation’s movie critics seem to have been far less than satisfied with the film overall, I on the other hand rather enjoyed it immensely. But maybe that’s because I have yet to grow weary of this genre yet or maybe it’s because I, like probably many others, have often wished I could go back in time and change things.

“Project Almanac” centers around a young man named Jonny Weston (David Raskin) who’s dream is to go to M.I.T. Upon discovering his acceptance letter in the mail, he finds the university was unable to give him enough of a scholarship to actually be able to attend in the fall. In frustration, Jonny begins to hunt around his attic for anything he could use as a science project in the hopes of attaching it to the only remaining scholarship he hasn’t applied for yet. While there, he and his sister find an old video camera with footage of his 7th birthday that arouses nostalgia in them both. But in a mere fraction of a moment, Jonny sees himself in that video staring back at the camera off in the distance. This incredible and seemingly impossible discovery is shared with his two best friends, which ultimately leads them all into the basement where his father’s old work lab once existed. It’s there they uncover one of his father’s old work projects that can only be described as plans for a temporal device. Through trial and error, they eventually get the device up and running, much to their delight and after setting some ground rules for its usage, they begin utilizing it solely to have fun and for their gain. But when Jonny misses out on an opportunity with the girl he likes in one of their time jumps, he starts breaking the rules and changing things to benefit himself, which only leads to a ripple effect and disastrous results, hence the butterfly effect. It’s then that the true premise of the movie takes off as Jonny attempts to fix time itself.

I’m quite sure the reason why critics haven’t really enjoyed this movie is for some of the plot holes that exist within it. Regardless, I chose to ignore them and imagine myself in Jonny’s shoes as the movie played on the large screen in front of me. At first, I think I think my ego would have been just like him and his friends, using the machine for money, popularity, and the like. But where my path might have diverged from his a little would have been me trying to change parts of my life that didn’t go over so well in the past, such as the day my father committed suicide, the day my drunk mom fell down the stairs and died, the day I chose to pursue a bed and breakfast that bankrupted me, the day I chose to enter many relationships that only ended in ruin, or the day any number of other difficult things happened to me. Yet it’s that butterfly effect that stops any of those thoughts in their tracks nowadays for me because I wouldn’t want to alter who I am today on any level. I actually like who I am now and who’s a part of my life as well, therefore the idea of any of that changing if I altered past events isn’t alluring whatsoever.

So in the end, I had a good appreciation for “Project Almanac” and its found-footage take on time travel, mostly because it was a fresh reminder of the dangers that could come from altering the past. Each of the trials and tribulations I’ve gone through over the years, while difficult in nature, have truly shaped and molded me into the person I’ve become now. And because I unconditionally love that person I’ve become, I wouldn’t want to change a single thing from my past. Thus maybe it really is a good thing that time travel doesn’t exist for any of us…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“American Sniper”, A Gritty, But Vivid Portrayal Of One Man’s War

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of guns, violence, or war. In fact, I’m glad that I didn’t grow up during the draft years because I stand for peaceful resolutions to conflict and not bloodshed. Maybe that’s why I became so disturbed and unsettled while I watched “American Sniper”, which was a movie about the deadliest sniper in U.S. History.

The film itself is about the life of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) who served four tours in the Iraq War, was awarded many commendations for his heroism, and who accumulated 160 confirmed kills (with at least 95 more that were rumored) during his years of military service. Nicknamed “Legend” by his fellow soldiers, Kyle was considered just that because of his accuracy in shooting, one of which being from a very long range away at 2,100 yards. Because of his talent as a sniper, the Iraq insurgents even had a bounty placed on his head that was purported to have been near six figures. While some of the movie’s alarming events were fictitious, like most Hollywood movies tend to be, much of what was portrayed in it was actually quite accurate. Having viewed the film in Cinemark XD, I often felt myself becoming submersed in the throngs of Kyle’s inner world. From the difficult decisions he had to make alone about who to kill and who not to kill, to the burden of having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) upon returning home to his wife and children, I found “American Sniper” to be extremely unsettling, even more so when I learned that Kyle was killed by a fellow retired solider with PTSD whom he was only trying to help.

While I can see why this patriotic movie is doing exceedingly well at the box office (over $90 million in its opening weekend of wide release), it’s still a bleak reminder to me that war doesn’t create peace on any level. Each person that’s killed during a war only seems to bring forth more in retaliation and further bloodshed. And then there’s the war within that people like Chris Kyle face when they return home, that of having PTSD. I’m a firm believer that this condition is solely due to the soul suffering from what one’s eyes have seen and maybe even done during the act of war.

Interestingly enough, as I reflected on all of this the other night over dinner with my partner after seeing the movie, I found myself being overly irritable and angry. What I realized was that my own soul was suffering from watching the film, both for the tragic loss of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle and for all the other deaths that have been the direct or indirect result of a war. “American Sniper” truly was a gritty, but vivid portrayal of a war that was fought both oversees, as well as within one soldier whose name was Chris Kyle…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Fashion Police And Awards Shows

It’s movie awards season time and for many individuals, they probably could care less. But in my case, I really do enjoy seeing most of what the industry says are the top-notch films of the prior year. Unfortunately, there’s also something that comes along with the awards season and that’s the fashion police and their harsh judgments about what the stars wear to the awards shows.

Just over a week ago I watched the entire broadcast of the 2015 Golden Globes, which I usually try to do each year. I always find it rather interesting to see the stars on the red carpet out of their acting elements, while they try to be more like everyday people, as much as that’s possible I guess. I also appreciate many of the speeches that are given during the show, especially when they give credit to a Higher Power. And of course I enjoy as well the humor element that generally comes with each of these awards shows. But seeing who wins which awards, especially for all the movies I’ve watched is the main reason why I find these shows entertaining. Except the one thing I don’t enjoy at all, which comes along with this time of the season, is the fashion police and their opinions on what each of those stars wear.

During the red carpet, everyone always seems to be cordial to each of these stars by telling them how lovely they look and asking them what they’re wearing. But then comes the next day and beyond with a slew of news articles from these fashion police who have plenty of choice words to say about what someone was wearing. All of them have headlines that speak to the top fashion mistakes, blunders, atrocities, etc. of the evening.

This saddens me every time I see this because the stars are there for their achievement, not for what they wear. Sometimes I’ve seen the nominations and/or awards a star has received be completely overlooked because of the dress or outfit they wore. Just as importantly, I’m sure each of these stars put on the outfit that some designer has made for them and feel good about themselves and how they look in it. Yet someone from the fashion police comes along and completely trashes their look and makes a big deal about it. Honestly, why does it matter what someone’s wearing?

I put clothes on everyday to keep warm and I do my best to make sure I match. But what are most important about me are my heart and soul and the good I try to do on this planet every single day, not what’s on my body. These stars are no different. They’ve worked hard to get their recognition because of their acting and/or singing, yet the focus is placed upon what they wear out and about, especially at these awards shows.

Sometimes I just wish someone famous would take a stand in the media eye and say, “Who really cares about what someone wears!” because what someone wears really doesn’t matter. What matters is what they do on a daily basis to better themselves, to help others, to inspire, and to spiritually grow. Hopefully one-day people will wake up and see that what’s on the outside of these stars and all of us for that matter, is not what’s truly important…what’s inside is…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

“Selma” and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Journey To Equality

Thomas Jefferson once said, “All men are created equal” and placed those very words in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. But sadly, in the 238 years that has passed since then, so many have had to fight for this very justice time and time again here in the United States. Watching the movie “Selma” was a great reminder of this and how racism, bigotry, and fear still to this day continue to stand in the way of fully achieving this very principle.

“Selma” chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s (David Oyelowo) nonviolent journey to attain equal voting rights for black people, which culminated in an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. A good portion of “Selma” centers on Dr. King’s relationship with President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) and his repeated attempts to sway the President into passing legislation to achieve those rights. Unfortunately, as it always seems to be with the government, there were more pressing issues at the time to focus on instead, such as poverty, which is exactly why Dr. King led his people to take a stand in Selma.

Like the “Eyes On The Prize” series and other Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. content I’ve seen over the years, the film highlights a number of the atrocities that took place back then by so many white men, women, and children who were filled with such an incredible amount of hate. The majority of them wanted nothing to do with equality with blacks on any level, especially when it came to voting rights. Thus they resorted to brutal beatings, killing innocent people, and verbal slander to preserve their racism and bigotry. But Dr. King’s nonviolence persevered over it all, even in Selma, and the movie itself truly does do a fantastic job showing each of the painful hurdles that he and his people had to go through to get there.

As I sit back now and reflect upon this movie, I see how a lot has changed in our country since then, but I see how a lot hasn’t changed either. There are still quite a number of racist and bigoted people here who try to oppress women, non-whites, and homosexuals on a daily basis, just to name a few. And every time I take a look at the latest news headlines, there seems to be another act of racism and bigotry that’s taken place, such as the recent events of Ferguson, Missouri.

All of this really makes me wonder on most days what it’s going to take to achieve full equality for every individual in our country, and really in this world as well. What I do know is that any violence will only ever bring forth more violence, which is what Dr. King knew down to his very core.

So I have a lot of gratitude for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and movies such as “Selma” because both remind me of the work I know I must keep on doing to uphold what I believe was the true intention of Jefferson’s words long ago.

All people are created equal.

All people…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

And PS – Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! 🙂

“Big Eyes”, A Movie That Reminds You To Be True To Yourself

I allowed myself to be stifled in creative expression for most of my entire life until just a few years ago. As I watched the movie “Big Eyes”, I was clearly reminded of this struggle and how I allowed fear to suppress the artist trying to bloom within me for a very long time. What was so refreshing about director Tim Burton’s latest film is the spiritual lesson I took away from it, which is for each artist to always remain true to his or her work.

This movie centers on the life of Margaret Ulbrich (Amy Adams) and her extraordinary paintings. In a time when women still held very little importance next to men, Margaret forged out on her own by leaving an abusive husband and heading to San Francisco to start a new life and hopefully a new career using her creative side, which was painting. She soon discovers her unique style of work does not garner the attention it truly deserves. But enter in Walter Keene (Christopher Waltz) who at first glance appears to be charming, dashing, and actually quite the motivator for her talent. He even comes to her rescue by proposing to her when her ex-husband files for full custody of their daughter, as he knows this will show the court that Margaret has the stable family necessary to raise her. Unfortunately, Walter also is a chronic liar and manipulator, which Margaret begins to discover when he starts taking credit for her paintings under the notion that a woman’s artwork doesn’t sell. As Walter’s lies continue to grow, so do the sales of her paintings and his fame, leading her only further and further into seclusion and self-doubt about the talent she really has. “Big Eyes” then goes on to tell the rest of the true story of one woman’s descent into omission and rise out of it into becoming the gifted artist she was always meant to become.

In all honesty, I have to say I never thought of myself much as an artist just as Margaret Keene once believed for herself. That’s only because we both were consumed with so much self-doubt that we allowed others to either take credit for something creative we produced or limited how we expressed our creativity because of fear. While I may not be blessed artistically in the way Margaret has been in life, I actually do have a creative talent that comes by way of a pen, or if you will, the keys on my laptop. Often, I’ve been told though that I should write differently than I do, that I should tone it done a little, or that I should not share so personally about others or myself. But no different than the way a painter portrays his or her muse on canvas; the way I write is my very own unique style of creative expression. And trying to change that for someone else is not being true to myself.

That’s why I’m so grateful for people like Margaret Keene and her life story, for movies like Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes”, and for all those in this world who continue to remind me to always be true to myself, especially when it comes down to any of the artistic work I ever produce in this life.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Serendipity”, A Movie That Truly Stirs The Heart

It’s the day before Christmas and thankfully not one I’ll be spending the majority of running around doing last minute shopping. Instead, I’m going to enjoy spending it with my partner relaxing at home having an early holiday meal and then watching my most favorite romantic movie that I put into my DVD player each year just before December 25th arrives. What is that movie? Serendipity.

I guess you could say that Serendipity was not actually geared as a Christmas movie when it first came out given much of it takes place during other times of the year. But, since its first scene takes place during the busy Christmas shopping season at Bloomingdales in New York City, it’s become that to me. When this film was actually released in late October of 2001, the world had just gone through some very trying times with the events of 9/11. My own heart had been extremely heavy because of this and I hadn’t felt very Christmassy because of it. But there was something quite magical about the film that after its brief running time of 90 minutes had passed, I had been stirred enough to bring the holiday spirit back into my heart.

The movie itself revolves around John Cusack as Jonathan Trager and Kate Beckinsale as Sara Thomas, who may possibly be two star-crossed lovers destined to be together, but in the Universe’s own unique way. Their story unfolds as each reach for an expensive pair of gloves at the same exact time in the famed department store in lower Manhattan. With one glove in each other’s hand, a moment is shared between the two that becomes enough of a catalyst for them to spend the rest of the day together. Sara invites John to her favorite spot in the Upper East Side, which is a boutique restaurant and dessert shop of the same name as the movie, Serendipity. Jonathan asks why the place is so special to her, which Sara responds it’s in the name itself. She says the name means when things happen by chance and cause good luck or fortune for an individual. Jonathan playfully banters how the pair of gloves was “serendipitous” for the two of them, even though he’s engaged and soon to be married. Sara is obviously flattered but admits to having a boyfriend as well. When their day comes to a close, it’s apparent they have a certain chemistry lacking in their own respective relationships. But when Jonathan eventually asks for her number, fate seems to intervene when the wind suddenly wisps it out of hands and away into a sea of others. Jonathan tries his best to convince her it’s not a sign, but Sara’s quite adamant it most definitely is. Seeing how Sara places so much on the word “Serendipity”, he agrees to another exchange of numbers, but this time in a very strange way. Jonathan is to write his name and number down on a five-dollar bill and she on the inside of her favorite book, Love In The Time Of Cholera. After buying a pack of mints with the money his information is now on, she says she’ll donate her book to one of the local used bookstores tomorrow. Hence the premise of this movie truly begins. Will the five-dollar bill find its way back into her hands? Will the book make its way back into his?

I have watched Serendipity countless times now since I first was enthralled by its charm in the theater all those years ago. Maybe that’s because I ultimately believe God operates in the same type of mysterious ways with each of us or maybe it’s because my heart moves so incredibly every time my eyes and ears are entertained when its playing. Either way, Serendipity is a magical movie that has managed to become a regular part of my life each year. So I look forward to watching it again tonight with my partner, as I know it will once again truly stir my heart and bring out more of that festive holiday spirit…

Have a great Christmas Eve everyone!

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Do You Have A Bucket List?

Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it? In all honesty, I didn’t even know what one of these was until I saw a movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in 2007 titled just that. While it’s not one of my all-time favorites, it did stir me enough to begin creating my own bucket list.

But I guess it’s probably best that I first provide a simple explanation for what a bucket list actually is, as I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who don’t know what they’re about. By simple definition, it’s the experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime. As for those who haven’t seen the film The Bucket List, it’s premise is about two men named Carter Chambers (Freeman) and Edward Cole (Nicholson) who meet each other in the hospital having both been diagnosed with cancer. Carter decides to begin writing a bucket list given his diagnosis, but upon finding out he has less than a year to live, he immediately crumples it up and throws it on the floor in anger. Edward soon discovers Carter’s list and urges him to pursue each of the items and even offers to finance the trip. Carter eventually agrees to take him up on his offer which leads the pair to start engaging in an all around the world exploration doing things such as race car driving, skydiving, climbing pyramids, going on safaris and more. But the underlying spiritual message of the movie is truly about how important it is to give and receive unconditional love to each other and our selves because our time here on earth is really just too short.

For a movie that didn’t make much of an impact on me in 2007, I’ve sure thought a lot about it’s premise in recent years. I’m sure that has a lot to do with the health issues I’ve faced during the same time. And although they’re not terminal on any level (Thank God for that!), they have stimulated me to ponder what I want to do and achieve in this life before it expires. So for now, the following is what I could come up with for my own bucket list and it’s my hope that you too may take some time to make one for yourself.

Andrew Arthur Dawson’s Bucket List

  • Visit the cities of Vancouver, Anchorage, Honolulu, Sydney, Rome, Berlin, Cape Town, Reykjavik, Tokyo, Shanghai, Giza, Dubai, Moscow, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin
  • Become a published author
  • Meet and/or appear on Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show
  • Do motivational speaking about my life’s recovery in front of at least 1,000 people
  • Live in or near Tampa, FL
  • Learn the Spanish language fluently
  • Become a Reiki Master
  • Bungee jump off a bridge
  • Parasail
  • Stay in a tropical overwater bungalow
  • Go on a real African safari
  • Drive a real Nascar on a track
  • Experience zero gravity
  • Watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the street in NYC
  • Zip line through a rainforest
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Become a motivational/spiritual coach
  • See a volcano from the top
  • Be a passenger in a fighter jet
  • Do a silent meditation retreat for 30 days

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Aspirations Of Another Andrew In “Whiplash”

Have you ever aspired to become truly great at something in life and were willing to go to any length to achieve it? That’s precisely what a drummer that shares the same name as me, Andrew (Miles Teller), strived for in the movie Whiplash.

The film centers around him, a young and rather unconfident first year student at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, who’s only dream in life seems to be that of becoming Buddy Rich, one of the most talented drummers of all time. Late one night while practicing in the studio, Andrew looks up during a ferocious drum roll sequence to notice he’s being watched by Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the conductor of the school’s top-ranked jazz ensemble that competes on the national level. It doesn’t take long for Andrew to realize how much Fletcher demands of those who get the chance to study under him, and it’s one that definitely comes with a pretty serious mental and emotional price tag. While Fletcher does seem to have a gift to see and hear a budding musical artist, his way of showing that comes mostly in the form of an angry drill sergeant out of boot camp. Through repeated verbal and even some physical abuse, Fletcher pushes each of his musical prodigies to the brink of madness, hoping to inspire them to greatness, with Andrew often being at the center of his brute and usually ridiculing behaviors. Does Andrew crack under the pressure like so many of Fletcher’s students end up doing and give up, or does he fully rise to greatness and become the drummer Fletcher believes he was born to become?

Whiplash is by far what I would consider to be the best movie of 2014. I felt each and every moment of pain, joy, sadness, and triumph that my name’s counterpart felt during the entire length of this movie. I genuinely hope I will see this movie go on to garner many honors during this upcoming film awards season. But more importantly, Whiplash was a well-needed rejuvenator I’ve been seeking as of late for my own spiritual journey in life. And it’s one that I know will eventually end up in my own private collection to watch anytime I find my spirit once again needing some spiritual inspiration…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Stephen Hawking And The Theory Of Everything

I honestly can’t imagine what it must be like to be Stephen Hawking. To have one of the greatest minds throughout the history of the world but at the same time be severely disabled by a degenerative disorder that renders one’s muscular functions relatively useless, seems impossible to deal with, but somehow he’s done it for over 50 years. After watching a portrayal of his life in The Theory Of Everything, I’ve gained profound respect and compassion for Hawking, not because he’s a genius, but because he’s never given up.

The Theory Of Everything stars Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and begins during Hawking’s latter college years at Cambridge when his health started to rapidly deteriorate. By the age of 21, after repeated bouts of spontaneous clumsiness and slurred speech, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given 2 years left to live. Redmayne does such an incredibly realistic job portraying what Hawking faced from this point forward in life that I found myself actually believing I was watching Hawking himself go through his terrible ordeal. But even through the depression he initially battled, as well as the incredible suffering and debilitation he endured, Hawking found true love in Jane Wilde, who’s played by Felicity Jones in the film. It becomes quite obvious to the viewer that Jane’s love of Stephen becomes one of the greatest positive forces to preventing him from ever giving up. As the rest of the movie goes on to painfully show Hawking become the deformed wheelchair figure he is today using that computerized voice to speak, I was clearly reminded how there’s always someone out there worse off than me. But regardless of his life’s tragic circumstances, Hawking has defied his doctor’s odds many times over. And not only did he find true love (twice), he also went on to parent three children, gain his doctorate, and garner many awards, honors, and achievements for his work in theoretical physics and cosmology.

But what I found most interesting from the movie and the research I did on Hawking afterwards is my discovery that he’s a proclaimed atheist. While I’m sure Hawking would say that the two loves of his life were guiding forces for many of those times when he wanted to give up, I’m inclined to believe that he has more spiritual beliefs than he realizes. The power of love is something I tend to think comes from something greater than all of us and not something we can just create. After all, if we were able to just create it whenever we wanted, we’d probably be falling in love a lot more often in life. Regardless, Hawking received this precious gift twice in life where each would keep him going when he most needed it. Whether he ever chooses to acknowledge the possibility that his true loves may have come from a Higher Presence or not I don’t know. Either way, Hawking is unquestionably one of the greatest minds that have ever lived. But more importantly, The Theory Of Everything cleared showed how his ability to transcend his unfortunate life circumstances and never given up is something that can be a spiritual inspiration for many, like it undoubtedly has been for me.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson