Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Of Raging Bulls and Life Choices

Most decisions that I have made in my life are pretty insignificant. No one cares what color socks I wear each day. The college I attended, my major and GPA are all unimportant for most people in most situations. Usually the outcomes of my decisions are not known, or are so inconsequential that even I do not notice or remember.

Sometimes, however, my decisions have long-term effects. Those long term effects can be positive, but too often I find that I am sorry for decisions I have made. There is embarrassment, debt, and other problems. These are all the residue of not thinking through what is important and what will happen when and if...

The biggest problem is that most of these decisions were made when I was too young, or too naive, to take into account the full impact of all that I was doing. Fortunately for me, although I made some silly choices, the consequences have been minor and short-lived. That is not true for everyone. The consequences of addictions, sexual encounters and other experiments can be devastating and long-lasting.

That is the lesson that is brought home clearly in the classic film, Raging Bull. In the film, Robert DeNiro plays middle-weight boxing champion Jake LaMotta. Time after time we see LaMotta make bad, impulsive choices. He his violent with his wife. He has an affair. He beats his new wife. He beats his brother. He associates with the Mafia. He throws a fight. He gets involved with young girls in his bar. LaMotta makes one bad choice after another.

The reason this happens to LaMotta, and too many of us, is that LaMotta only sees right now. He is not concerned about ruining his relationship with his brother, only about satisfying his rage at the moment. The future is too far away to take seriously. "I'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here" is the attitude that many of us have.

We all need to learn something from Raging Bull. We need to take the future seriously. Plan for the future. Think about what ingesting that substance will do to the rest of your life. Consider the implications of everything you do for the future. Go ahead and have a great time, but make sure that your great time lasts beyond today.

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