By Rebecca Oliver
I love a good movie! My favorite kinds are romantic comedies, drama, and adventure. Insert a dog into the story and I am hooked! Some months back, I saw The Art of Racing in the Rain advertised when it came out in the theater. However, it looked sad, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it. When traveling last month, it was a featured film on my flight so I thought I would watch it. Well, not to give the story away, but I was right . . . it is sad. However, it is a beautiful story of the love shared between a dog and his master.
The film is about a man named Denny who is a race car driver. The story follows Denny and his dog, Enzo through their life together including Denny getting married and becoming a father. Enzo believes that he too, although a dog, is meant to be a race car driver. During the film, Denny gives lessons in racing. He asserts that, “In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go.” - Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain. This line really caught my attention. I think this sentiment of truth applies to life beyond racing.
If we focus our eyes on negative characteristics, doesn’t it become easier to see those characteristics? When we focus on our “friends’” posts on social media and all the apparent “good” in their lives, don’t we become a bit more unsatisfied? If we listen to the critics in our lives, don’t we become more focused on our own shortcomings and failures? If we focus on our fears and anxieties, doesn’t the world become an intimidating place? This is not to make light of any difficulty, trouble or anxiety in life . . . but perhaps applying this thought is one strategy to moving in a positive direction and focusing on strengths.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, today seems like a perfect time to turn our eyes toward the good in our lives; our positive characteristics; the strengths in our family and friends.
Others - - How can you celebrate the strengths of others in the coming months? What makes your family members unique? What do they do well? What makes your friends a joy to be around? What makes them unique and valuable? How can you turn your eyes toward the good in your family and friends? How can you communicate your appreciation for their strengths and positive influence on your life? What impact might this have?
Self - - What is your unique skill set? What special characteristics are valued by those around you? What talent or strength can you contribute at your home, work, or community? What critique do you need to ignore and how can you instead, turn your eyes to your value, your strength, and your unique contribution? What will you do in the coming weeks to care for yourself and show positive self-regard? What impact might this have on your attitude and outlook?
Blessings in life - - Would you take some time to meditate on your life and “count your blessings”? What good in your life have you possibly overlooked or taken for granted? What positive opportunities lie within your reach?
Where our eyes go – that is where we go. This is one of the reasons School Social Work is such a wonderful profession. Social Work focuses on strengths. We look for the strengths of individuals, families, and systems. We look for those strengths and we validate them and we build on them. As School Social Workers, we routinely focus on strengths in our professional lives. I wonder if sometimes, we may forget to focus on strengths in ourselves and in those in our personal lives.
Toward the end of the film, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Denny takes Enzo for a ride. Enzo is thrilled to be with his master and happy to be riding in a race car. His face is in the breeze and his eyes are looking ahead. You can see a joy in Enzo’s eyes as he looks to his master, Denny, and enjoys the journey. I hope that your Thanksgiving is filled with joy and that your eyes turn to the good in those around you and the blessings in your life.