Imagine your estranged adult son suddenly dies at the beginning of his latest European adventure. You halt your busy work life to bring his remains home. Arriving in the Pyrenees of France, you are informed of the historic 500 mile "El camino de Santiago" pilgrimage he had intended to walk that retraces the steps that Saint James took hundreds of years earlier. In honor of your son, you pick up his ashes and choose to embark on his journey. That is the premise of the inspirational 2010 movie "The Way" that I watched this weekend. It stars Martin Sheen as the father and was written and directed by his son Emilio Estevez.
Watching the movie play out, I saw so many parallels with the poker journey. Martin Sheen's character, Tom, was a very inexperienced trekker, but he had a strong and sincere desire to take this particular journey. He didn't really know where his journey would take him, but his drive and passion pushed him forward overcoming his various obstacles. Along the way, he encounters many people who are taking the journey each for their own motivations. Some seek penance, some solace, some meaning, and some to find a new identity. He finds some connection and commonality with fellow pilgrims, each of whom is struggling in some fashion. Their journey is made richer by the bonds they make along the way.
During the many adventures and meals that ensue, each are asked why they have made certain decisions. The characters often rationalize that they chose their life and thus must live with its consequences. The film's answer is that life is to be lived, not chosen. It is never too late to take a different path.
As they end their journey on the Atlantic ocean of Spain some of the characters achieve their goals while others do not, but all are changed and touched by having taken the journey. Each of us in our own way is on a quest to find meaning in our lives. No matter how insulated we feel or live, we are and can be citizens of the world with all its richness of offerings. Go out there and live it.