This clip is as brilliant as it is beautiful, a shining example of meaningful storytelling and deeper insight:
When I heard the news about Williams while on the road Monday, I thought about this scene. It's a mere three minutes in a wonderful film with so many non-sports moments. And as much of a sucker as I am for great sports movies, these three minutes take the cake for me, better than any thing else out there, even from movies directly and deliberately about sports.
Whether you love baseball or not, you still identify with this scene. You may have never heard of Carlton Fisk or be able to name anything distinctive about Fenway Park. But you probably know what it's like to see someone and be blown away by what they could be for you. It doesn't matter if you have skipped a game to have a drink with your future wife; you still resonate with what it feels like to want someone like you've never wanted anyone before.
This is what great movies, great sports, or great art does. It shares something deeply about life in its presentation. Great games go beyond statistics and plays. Great movies dig deeper than film can capture. Great art is about something bigger than brush stokes or dance steps. Each, at their best, points us to something deep within us that we're forced to consider.
I have been surprised to see such an outpouring for Williams on social media. The tributes and quotes shared have surpassed what people felt when Michael Jackson died, for example. Perhaps it's indicative of my generation, a perfect combination of a group that came of age when Williams was at his busiest and best colliding with a medium that lets us express long held memories and long lost feelings.
Nonetheless, like great art or sports or theater, great artists, athletes, and performers show us something we hope to be. When they are at their best, these pursuits help remind us that when we're at our best, we're willing to slide a ticket across a table because we've found a better seat right next to our very future.
The best sports scene in film wasn't really about sports. It was about regret. And love. And risk and hope and meaning and vulnerability and growth.
We'd do well to seek out the art or the sports or the opportunities - as well as the artists and performers and encouragers - that continually push us beyond the boundaries of a given field and let us explore the very edges of life.
What we learn from this scene is that being a spectator is a role we settle for because it's nice and safe and comfortable. To play the game of life or love requires us to give up a seat as spectator and stroll on to the field, equally facing the outcomes of striking out or hitting a home run.
But we weren't meant to merely watch. We were meant to play. To try. To let ourselves be forever changed when a stranger walks into a bar. We were not meant to watch the day, but rather, to seize it.