One of my favorite movies when I was growing up was The Last Starfighter. The film tells the tale of a teenager living in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere, who has dreams of going farther than life than to community college and a meager job (and existence) thus forevermore. One day, he beats the top score on an arcade machine at the corner store, and is soon whisked away to a war-torn alien world where he ultimately chooses to offer his skills to help defend the oppressed people from an evil emperor wanting to conquer the galaxy.
My favorite quote from this film comes from the scene just before Alex breaks the record on the arcade machine, setting his destiny in motion. Alex is complaining to Otis, the man running the store, that he is never able to enjoy himself, and Otis’ response is “Things change. Always do. You’ll get your chance! Important thing is, when it comes, you gotta grab it with both hands and hold on tight!”
“…when it comes, you gotta grab it with both hands and hold on tight!”
Those are words that have always stuck with me throughout my life, for better or for worse. I was always waiting for that one life-changing event that would be “it” for me, whether a career calling, or a relationship that would be my ticket to a perfect, peaceful existence. A greater part of me has always applied that quote to relationships than anything else. I couldn’t bear the thought of spending my life without my high school girlfriend, so sure that she was my one chance that I had to “grab with both hands”, so I threw everything I had into that relationship. Unfortunately, that resulted in me going overboard, being broken up with, and being heartbroken for over a year afterwards. Getting over her was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
Fast forward several years later, to 2008 when I began chatting with an old friend from community college. We hit it off instantaneously, and were officially dating within weeks. And after we were an official couple for a month or so, that is when I realized that she is my one chance for a relationship that is the best that it could be. She is whom I needed to grab with both hands and to whom I needed to hold on tightly. I knew I couldn’t bear to live through another breakup of someone that I was so close to, but more than that, I knew that it was time to throw away all the “what-if”s and “aren’t-you-worried-about”s and simply enjoy the ride.
Ashley and I were married the following summer, just 15 months after we began talking again.
Sure, we could have spent more time planning our lives. And sure, our lack of planning has on occasion been stressful and made us angry at ourselves that we didn’t plan better. But in the end, even amidst the desire to be more stable, (especially financially), I have enjoyed the uncertainty. And I sure as hell know that there is absolutely no one on this planet who I would rather share my uncertain existence with. We’ve learned so much that so many others who live comfortable lives simply can’t, because they are not challenged enough to see things from other angles, or to compromise as much, or live unconventionally.
I’m glad, for once in my life, that I listened to advice given from a movie character.
Because for once, it was good advice.