Off The Bench

One of the greatest scenes in cinema history comes from the 1997 film, Good Will Hunting. Therapist and psychology teacher Sean Maguire, played by Robin Williams, is sitting on a park bench with Will Hunting, a brilliant but troubled young man with a horrific past, played by Matt Damon. “You’re just a kid,” the wise old teacher begins. “You’ve never been out of Boston. You don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about. If I asked you about art you could probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written, but you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling.”

The park bench speech breaks down the walls that Will had spent years building because the old man was right. There’s no denying it. We cannot become people of great compassion and empathy without first having experiences. Ever notice the most unfulfilled people you know are the ones who don’t seek adventure? Don’t be that person. Go find yours. Let it sink in how temporary everything is and let it change you.

My 91-year-old father-in-law just returned from a trip to Europe. He and my mother-in-law experienced all the adventure they could pack into a week — a luxury cruise along Europe’s ancient waterways, the grand cities and quaint villages. Snapshots of the timeless beauty and grace of the Old World — snapshots we will never see. When they returned home, my wife and I couldn’t wait to hear all about their trip. “Did you take a bunch of pictures?” my wife asked Mom. “Not one,” came her surprising reply. Wait, what? In the twilight of their lives together, they go on this grand adventure and not one picture? “What am I going to do with a bunch of pictures? Mom asked. “If you want to see something beautiful, go see it for yourself.”

As usual, Mom’s right. There is a reason why God limits our days. It’s so that each one is that much more precious.

Time to step out.
Time to go seek adventure.
Time to get off the bench.