Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rudy - a book review

I remember watching this movie when it just came out. I didn't like football (don't hate it but it's not a passion). There was something about the movie that has stuck with me all these years. I remember Rudy memorizing the speech and giving it to the empty locker room. I saw this book and had to read it. Didn't realize how perfect it was to fit in my reading selections. The other surprise was that my hubby had never seen the movie. I don't know how that's possible, but he is a country boy.

I had to rent the movie from the library to share with him. Now I just need a night to sit down and watch it together. In the meantime, I thought I would play it for myself to refresh my memory and see all of the parts that Rudy mentions about making the movie in his book. Like the last game where Rudy gets to play. Those scenes were all taped during halftime of a real game. One take is all it took. That is just amazing.

This book is one of the best that I've read in a while. Rudy breaks it down into 4 main sections: growing up, college life, movie making, and life after.

In growing up, he shares about being one of fourteen kids. All packing into the station wagon to go to church on Sunday and feeling like everyone was watching a clown car with all those kids spilling out. Rudy shared how impressed he was with his father and how he handled the people in the community. His dad just let them talk their talk. He didn't get mad and fight to correct their thoughts. He just waited and cherished the feeling of when they are proved wrong. I loved the story he shared about being in little league and how clear and focused he was on his goals even back then. He tells of a chance he had to claim a foul ball from a White Sox game. All the kids that got to go on the field trip with him lined up. The coach then threw the ball as far as he could and the first kid to get it would keep it. Rudy tells of watching it bounce over the fence and into the weeds. He tells of running with all of his might, jumping the fence, and going to the weed that it stopped by. My favorite part, "Suddenly aware of the world around me, I noticed kids to my right an my left looking in the weeds in all the wrong places; a whole bunch of other players were still on the field or struggling to get over the fence. I left them in the dust. The fact that they were bigger than me, faster than me, and stronger than me didn't matter. I was kind of stunned by it." To have that much focus is a gift from God. I get distracted just walking across my house.

In growing up, he also shared going into the Navy. That impressed me; he went to sign up for the Navy so that he wouldn't get drafted into the Army and end up on the front line in Vietnam. I loved how he described life on the ship. "We were all in it together. You could wind up pulling a line while your superior officer pulled that same line right beside you. That impressed me. I found myself wishing that school had been that way. I found myself thinking that every sports team needed to be that way. Every company. Every workplace. I found myself dreaming of how great the world would be if everyone's boss came down off their high horse to tow the line with his workers now and then. How great would America be if it modeled itself after this sort of military brotherhood?"

In college life, Rudy shares about meeting his best friends. The first one taught him how to study to get the most out of his lessons. This guy helped him find out that he was dyslexic and how to overcome it. Rudy mentioned how he wished he would have known this in high school. The other friend taught him how to take a break and enjoy yourself just the right amount. The best thing about those friends was that they encouraged his dreams and he in turn encouraged their dreams without even knowing that he was. Rudy's passion for his goal made others around him want to do more with their own lives.

In college life, Rudy shares all that he did to get into NotreDame. He thought himself a NotreDame student the moment he stepped onto the college grounds even though he was only in the community college next door. He found every possible way to infuse his life with being a Notre Dame student. He set goals and accomplished them. I loved this part, "What was really strange about it was I didn't feel like I had worked all that hard to get it. It came easier than I would have thought. I was tapping into something. I was starting to understand something here and there, in little glimpses: focusing on an achievable, accomplishable goal can turn a far-fetched fantasy into an attainable dream. A dream that can become real with a little hard work and perseverance."

The other insight from this section was, " In some ways, I wished it could have lasted forever - that feeling right before the payoff, right before the goal is reached, right before the dream comes true, when you know for certain there's nothing left to stand in your way, but before it's all over." One of the lessons he learned in his college years was to always have another goal to reach for. Without something else to drive you, your life becomes stagnant and your brain starts to fall asleep.

In making the movie, Rudy shares all of the challenges he had to face in seeing the whole process through. He shares the ups and downs and the amazing moments that just seemed like every day life to him because he was so focused on the dream. My favorite excerpt from this section is,"It's scary to live life feeling trapped or confused or unhappy with your job. It's hard to trust that anything will ever change. But that trust is what you need the most. That faith that you're on the right path, even if it doesn't feel quite right at the moment, is important. The truth in life comes from following your intuition and the gut feelings that God gives you, and then making the right choices when opportunities present themselves. And heck, if opportunities aren't presenting themselves, then it's all about having the guts to make the kinds of choices that give you those opportunities."

In the last section of the book, he shares about his life after the movie. Rudy shares a few of the speaking engagements that he gave. He shares some of the movie viewings he experienced. And he shares how they all affected him because of the way that it affected the audience. He knew it was a great message and needed to be told; he just didn't know how big of an impact it would be and still is.

I was impressed by his thoughts on what has happened to America. We have "taken our eye off the ball." We have "stood for the false notion of bigger is better at any cost". He calls the time we live in "the Great Reset."

I think my favorite part comes right at the end. "The truth is you are someone. The truth is, get rid of your goofy thoughts. The truth is, don't let someone influence what you want to do. You have that choice. That's the most powerful thing you have. No one is going to stop you from doing what you want to do but you, and that's the truth."

Go pick up this book and let it inspire you as it has inspired me. Go and rent the movie again too. Share it with the next generation. Teach them to set their eyes on the goal and never let go til you get there.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”