Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just Trying to Matter

With four young kids to keep entertained, I don't see many movies. So I still haven't seen Reese Witherspoon's performance in the film "Walk the Line" that earned her a Best Actress award.

But I remember her exceptionally intelligent acceptance speech and was struck by her quotation from June Carter Cash, the country singer she played in the film. Apparently, when Ms. Cash looked tired and was asked how she was doing, she would often say, "I'm just trying to matter."

Ms. Witherspoon spun off that provocative comment and said about her own career: "I'm just trying to matter," adding, "I'm just trying to live a good life and do meaningful work." That's a pretty heavy thing to say because deciding to live a life that matters raises profound questions about meaning and purpose.

Harold Kushner, in one of my favorite books, Living a Life That Matters, wrote, "Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it."

Prior to Ms. Witherspoon's comments, the Oscar Awards show featured a montage of powerful scenes from movies about people of great courage, idealism, and character who made a difference. I remember being uplifted and moved by those movies.

Although there is an awful lot I find distasteful about Hollywood, I have to admit that lots of films do matter well beyond box-office earnings and Oscar nominations, and I am so glad there are still people who want to make them.

And I'm gratified that a glamorous star at the top of her profession takes so much pride in "trying to matter."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Note: This is a forwarded email that I consider a worthy read. I usually save them in my inbox or print them out, now I am posting it my blog to share to you, too.

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