While my brother was here from Seattle last week, my husband and I took him with us to see the movie, “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.
Though not a big fan of boxing movies, I was curious about this one. I had seen the Nov. 21, 2010 “60 Minutes” broadcast about Wahlberg’s years-long commitment to making this movie, the story of light welterweight contender Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his crack-addicted half-brother, Dicky Ecklund, played by a freakishly thin and jittery Bale.
The CBS story focused on Wahlberg’s amazing transformation from New England street thug (he was sent to prison at age 17 for attacking a man, who later lost an eye, over a couple of cases of beer) to one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors and producers.
But that wasn’t the part that got me. At one point, interviewer Lara Logan described how Wahlberg underwent intensive physical training for the film for four years, without knowing it would ever get made. How does someone sustain that kind of commitment in the face of uncertainty? Logan hinted at Wahlberg’s “obsession” with making the film. He smiled, offering no sign of protest at the word.
A couple of days later, my husband told me about a story he’d read about Wahlberg in Sports Illustrated. I was focused on something in the kitchen at the time and nodded absentmindedly when he suggested I would enjoy reading “And New Champion…” (Dec. 20, 2010), myself. I promptly forgot about it.
The next day, he picked up the magazine again, holding it in the air and gesturing in my direction. “Oh, here’s that article…” he said.
This time I took the hint. When I read the story, I realized why my husband had been so insistent that I do so.
In the words of writer Michael O’Neill:
“At bottom, The Fighter is the by-product of a sign posted back in a Lowell [Mass.] gym, Art Ramalho’s, where Micky and Dicky began their careers and where much of the movie was shot. In big block letters, it is the sort of thought that sits up in the top drawer of Wahlberg’s head: THE PERSON WHO REALLY WANTS TO DO SOMETHING FINDS A WAY; THE OTHER FINDS AN EXCUSE.”
The words stung. There is something I want to do. I believe I really want to do it. And yet I continue to let other things get in the way. I tell myself it is those other things that are at fault — those obligations to others, those perceived responsibilities and tasks.
I know it’s really just a bunch of excuses.