My son and I like to go to movies together. When we lived in Phoenix we would go to a restaurant near our house, get bacon pizzas, talk trash (in a loving way) to each other, and then head to the movie theater next door. We loved Dolphin Tale, slept through Thor, saw The Dark Knight multiple times, and made a lot of memories.

But my favorite movie that we ever saw in that theater – in fact, my favorite movie ever – is an animated movie from 2011 called Rango.

Rango is weird. The movie is the story of a pet lizard with no real identity who ends up in a western town, posing as the town Sheriff until he is outed as an imposter and has to discover who he really is, and return to the town as the hero. Though it did well at the box office and with critics, it was too weird to be a juggernaut like Toy Story.

However, in the years since then I’ve come back to a specific scene in that movie time and again.

Rashes & Crop-dusters

After the town discovers Rango is not who he says he is, he is banished from town. Wandering through the desert at night, he eventually wakes up to see “The Spirit of the West” (which is actually Clint Eastwood in a golf cart full of Oscars). Rango tells The Spirit of the West about the people in the town realizing he wasn’t who he said he was, and that he let everyone down.

The Spirit of the West, viewing Rango through the windshield of a golf cart, traces a frame around Rango through the dust on the windshield and says this:

“No man can walk out on his own story”.

A few years ago I got what looked like an incredible professional opportunity, and my family and I briefly moved to Florida to pursue it. It turned out to be a disaster, on every level. In addition to the organizational challenges I experienced at work, my family hated where we lived. Sandwiched between an incredibly wealthy community and an incredibly poverty-stricken community was the small slice of Florida wilderness we lived in.

We had a hard time meeting anyone in the same solidly middle class status we had. My wife felt alone and isolated. My kids didn’t fit in, and on my daughter’s first day at her new school, she and others on the playground were inadvertently crop dusted (true story). I immediately learned the difference between the dry Arizona weather (where we came from) and the Florida jungle when I got a rash that made just sitting in an office chair seem like someone was trying to get me to confess my role in an international terrorist plot.

No Unrecoverable Mistakes

I thought I had made an unrecoverable mistake. Sometimes I was sure that whatever came next for me could never be better than the rash-laden, crop-dusted reality I currently lived in.

At moments I felt like walking out on my own story, and discarding the aspirations I had.

Then I would trace a dusty frame around myself, and remember what The Spirit of the West said.

Just a month after my lowest point, we got the opportunity to move to Missouri, and life has been pretty great since then. There are challenges, but no rashes, no crop dusters, and we definitely don’t feel alone.

You can’t walk out on your own story.

You can choose what the next chapter will read like, and whether or not it will be a chapter that inspires you to write the next one. And the one after that, and the one after that…

And if you get stuck, don’t shy away from looking for inspiration in weird places. Art, and pop art like Rango, the music of Bruce Springsteen, and the writing of Stephen King have been huge inspirations to me.

You can learn amazing things in strange places, if you open your heart to what they have to say.

SOURCE: Itsmytime, Rango, YouTube

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