A few years ago I saw a movie with a powerful message that truly resonated with me. The core message in “Up in the Air” is centered around the idea of humanity’s need to be in community.
Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) is a businessman who travels some 332 days a year. In fact, his goal in life is to accumulate 10 million frequent flyer miles. Bingham travels for work as a “career transition” counselor, meaning he goes from city to city to fire people whose bosses don’t want to do it themselves.
Not only does he fire people, but he also gives motivational talks. His favorite theme for his talks is to teach people how to travel lightly through life. The point of every talk he gives is consistent. Relationships and community slow us down in life. He encourages the people hearing his talk to be sharks, not swans. What does that mean? Well, swans are often seen as creatures that build and maintain relationships for a lifetime, but sharks, are solitary hunters. “We are not swans,” he says, “we are sharks.”
I wonder if the Grinch ever heard one of Bingham’s talks because he lived his life as a shark. In fact, thanks to Lucy Tonnesen (an incredibly cute and smart 8-year-old), I learned that being a shark just might be the reason why the Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small. After all, God created all of us (including the Grinch) to be swans, to be in community. You and I are created to not be alone.
If we lived in an ideal world, everyone would truly celebrate Christmas with the love and joy that are meant to accompany it. But, the reality is people are lonely at Christmas. In fact, this time of the year can make our loneliness seem even more pronounced. And if loneliness can cause the heart of the Grinch to shrink two sizes too small…
Well, let’s make sure that the Grinch of loneliness doesn’t steal our hearts or the hearts of people we love. We are created to be swans, not sharks…