Friday, December 25, 2015

It's a Pretty Darn Wonderful Life - And Here is Why

Brought to us by a holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" this is a lesson in "context" ... a lesson in the way we hold in our minds the world before us ... how we approach that life in our attitude, energy and presence. What context do we hold in our lives as we move about this crazy world?  What is our choice of mindset?
  • "Hurray, here we go!" 
  • "Life is hard" 
  • "Oh drats, what's coming next?"
With so many ups and downs, smiles and frowns, we may believe that our emotions and attitudes are at the effect of our situations and circumstances. However, let's take a look at the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life." I just want to point out the last part of the movie, not the dreaded circumstances that befell our dear hero George Bailey.

In the face of a bankruptcy, a jail term and the loss of his prized possessions, the reformed George - after seeing the depth of what matters to him - comes home to a house full of characters:
  1. A bank examiner and his cronies
  2. Law enforcement
  3. The media and newspapers
  4. George's children

Now, this is some great movie making, as the director made choices quite symbolic for its main messages. The children are hidden from view at first. All George sees when he rushes in the home are the bankers wanting to repossess his home, some law enforcement with a warrant for his arrest, and newspaper reporters wanting to document the entire mess.

And what is George's response to this obvious breach of territory and decency? The old George (prior to some angelic guidance) would have been distraught and raging. However, since he had been through quite a journey to realize what's truly of value to him, George had these responses:

For the bankers: "Well hello Mr. Bank Examiner!"

For the law: "I bet you it's a warrant for my arrest. Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail."

To the press: "Oh reporters."

This latter response was a complete "throw-away line," meaning he said it in passing, to demonstrate it didn't matter what the press represents or what they did with the story. In a symbolic gesture, in just that instant of a dismissive throw-away line, we see that George doesn't care what people or the public thinks of him. He knows who he is and what he loves. And that is enough.

In that position, in that reality, he has realized his own self-worth, and therefor he can choose the attitude, emotion, affection and CONTEXT that leads out in front of him. The money didn't hold the power. The possessions did not matter. The public image did not matter. His love mattered, and it shined so strongly on his children.

And what reward did George receive with this shift of context and mindset? The home was saved, the wife returned through the door, the money was plentiful and his home was filled with the warmth and friendship that would matter the most. And what of the children, the symbol of innocence and love? They stood atop the stairs looking upon their father with a wish for a merry Christmas. In that moment, with George's new context, all he could do was rush up the stairs - kissing the broken stair knob on the way - towards the higher realm where he belongs.

He went to a place where we ALL BELONG. The higher realms of innocence and love. And he did it, and we all can do it, with a shift. A shift of mind. A shift of heart. A shift of context.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego. He can be reached for a context boost at

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