July 28, 2012-Inspiration from an Actor?

If you knew me well, you would know that I don’t admire very many actors or actresses.  Most of the “Hollywood Types” have never been very good role models for our nation.  I have to admit, though, that when it comes to reinventing your life, one actor does come to mind:   Robert Downey Junior.

You remember the story.  He made his film debut when he was five, was in the cast for Saturday Night Live for a while, and starred in numerous films during the 1980’s and ‘90’s.

Then there was the series of incidents involving drugs that eventually led to his arrest and jail time, including a stint for violation of parole.

I will never forget the pictures of this man who was adored by many, had wealth beyond what most of us can even imagine, and stood in a courtroom looking like he had not quite recovered from a 3 day bender.

That’s not the case anymore.  In 2003, things changed.  He showed the world that he was reinventing himself.  He began starring in several movies and gradually showed prospective filmmakers that he was a changed person.

I don’t look forward to many movies coming out because of a particular star.  His movies are the exception.  I look forward to the next “Sherlock Holmes” and “Iron Man”.

While as of this writing Robert Downy, Jr. may not be over 50 (he was born on April 4th, 1965), he is not that far off.  So what can we take away from this in our journey to reinvent ourselves if we are over 50?

I think these things:

1.  We can be encouraged to know that no matter how bad things get, we can turn things around.

I think back to those haunting images of him in that courtroom.  From an outsider’s perspective, I would think this had to be some of the darkest days of his life.  His eyes did not reflect the one thing that we all need:  the hope that things will get better.  As Martin Luther said “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope”.  As bleak as things looked at that moment, we can look at him now and know that “all things are possible….”

  1.  We can be assured that  this will not be an easy road.

I have not seen many interviews with him during the period of time that he decided to turn things around and reinvent himself.  I can only imagine, though, that it has been a tough road.  I am sure many of his old ‘friends’ wanted him to join them again in the lifestyle that lead him down the wrong road.  I am sure he spent a lot of time alone, and felt those old urges and temptation creep back into him, calling his name.  I am not so sure that at times he didn’t give in to those.  But what I do know for sure is that he came out ‘on the other side’ with a new life, another chance, and even more success in his chosen field.  I wonder how many little decisions he had to make every day that lead him out of the old life and towards his new one?  Tough decisions; tough road.  But doable.

  1. We need a support group.

When Robert Downy, Jr. was released from prison, a longtime friend reached out to him to offer him support and employment.  Mel Gibson was responsible for offering him a role in a movie and affirming his faith in Robert.  Mel Gibson took a step on faith that Robert Downy, Jr. would not fail.  We all need that kind of support group as we take on the journey of reinventing our lives, our careers, our dreams.  It happens that as I am writing this, the Summer Olympics are on.  I have seen story after story of the support groups that some of these athletes have had to help them reach their Olympic goals.  These support groups have helped raise money for training and travel, given words of encouragement, networked for the athlete, and on and on.  Many times these support groups have come in the form of parents who have sacrificed much as they supported their child on his or her dream.  The take away for us?  Find a support group, even if it’s only one person, who will be willing to walk with you on your journey.  Understand clearly that this support group has to be made up of individuals who will also call you out if you stray from the path towards your goal.

I thank Mr. Robert Downy, Jr. for his example (thus far) of how to do turn your life around.  And I thank you dear reader, for your support.

Categories: Inspiration

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