Although I am not as big of a movie buff as Dave Verhaagen (www.shrinktank.com), I was recently impressed by the movie “The Way.” Written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his real life dad Martin Sheen, we are taken on an 800 kilometer journey along the Camino de Santiago. Since the official movie website (www.theway-themovie.com) can summarize the movie better than I can, here is a quick synopsis:
“The Way” is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends and the challenges we face while navigating this ever-changing and complicated world. Martin Sheen plays Tom, an irascible American doctor who comes to France to deal with the tragic loss of his son (played by Emilio Estevez). Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage “The Way of St. James” to honor his son’s desire to finish the journey. What Tom doesn’t plan on is the profound impact this trip will have on him. Through Tom’s unresolved relationship with his son and unexpected and oftentimes amusing experiences along “The Way,” he discovers the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose.”
Although there were many opportunities to find meaning in this movie, there was one subtle comment that struck the most for me. At one point, Tom explained that his deceased son frustrated the heck out of him, indicating that their relationship was not always smooth. Pairing this comment with the symbolic gesture of love he was making for his son by taking this journey, displayed how we can often having highly contradictory feelings about people. We can get frustrated, angry, and annoyed, but at the same time love and respect the person just the same. Even though we may have arguments or disagree, this does not necessarily mean the love goes away. This may just indicate a need for improved empathy, understanding, and communication. Ultimately, it reinforced that we can be very different people, with very different opinions and lifestyles, and still feel connected in the deepest of ways.