The Art and Science of Fitness | 3 films, 1 message: Live life to the fullest
This week, I bring to you, dear readers, three films - "Your Day," "A Man Called Otto," and "The Professor" — and their themes of living life to the fullest, having fun, and finding purpose.
In the past week, I have watched three films: "Your Day," "A Man Called Otto," and "The Professor." While they are all different, they share similarities. Spoiler alert: I highly recommend watching these films before reading further.
I am not here to discuss the meaning of life or why we exist on this planet. Unfortunately, I don't have the answers to those questions, and neither does anyone else who claims they do. Additionally, this is not about how to end one's life.
The first film I watched was Your Day, a short film on the Omeleto YouTube channel. I stumbled upon it by chance. Omeleto curates high-quality, concise short films that typically last around 17-18 minutes. These films are usually not what you expect, and "Your Day" is no exception. You might want to stop reading and watch it right away. I guarantee you that it’ll hit home really hard.
If you’ve decided to read on, you have been warned.
A young couple checks into a decent hotel room, and from the start, the audience senses that something is off, though they can't quite pinpoint what. The man and woman are both determined to make the day memorable for each other, but the girl appears to be struggling to keep it together. As the evening approaches, her anxiety seems to worsen.
The man suggests to her that they can delay the day by a week or longer, but the woman insists that it must happen on that specific day. It becomes apparent that the young woman is terminally ill and has come to the hotel for physician-assisted dying.
I had to pause the video a few times because I didn’t want to see such a beautiful love story coming to a tragic end. I simply hate sad endings. But don’t we all!
Death is inevitable. Despite this fact, many of us spend our lives merely existing, conforming to societal expectations, and neglecting the important things in life. Before we know it, it’s game over. We don’t spend time with ourselves and our loved ones. We don’t move and spend time in nature. We forget to smile and make others smile.
The young woman in the film chose to truly live in her last moments rather than merely waiting to die. The man devised games and activities for them to enjoy together, and they spent time having fun and creating memories. While opinions on the ethics of this decision will vary, upon watching the film, it is difficult not to agree that she lived life to the fullest until the very end.
A Man Called Otto
A couple of days later, I watched A Man Called Otto, starring Tom Hanks, a remake of the Swedish film A Man Called Ove, which further is an adaptation of a novel of the same name. Before delving further, it’s crucial to take you back in time.
Back in 1988, I was first introduced to Tom Hanks through his film "Big," a fantasy comedy-drama. The character Josh, played by Hanks, resonated with me deeply. In the film, a 12-year-old boy magically finds himself in the body of a grown man and gets a job as a data entry clerk at a toy company. Initially, the adults around him struggle to understand his childlike behaviour, but Josh's insights into the latest toys impress his elderly boss, Mr MacMillan.
Eventually, Josh and MacMillan play a duet on the store's famous Walking Piano, demonstrating the importance of fun and play in our lives. MacMillan invites Josh to a marketing campaign meeting, where Josh boldly proclaims that the new toy being launched in the upcoming festive season is boring and children wouldn't want to play with it.
The innocence displayed by Josh in the movie "Big" is relevant to this fitness column. It shows that sometimes we need to approach physical activities with a child-like enthusiasm and focus on having fun, rather than treating it like a chore or taking it too seriously. In today's world, many adults prioritize posting evidence and numbers of their workouts on social media, rather than enjoying the experience of being active and playing sports.
The film “The Man Called Otto” seems like a sequel to “Big”, with a time gap of several decades in between. Otto is a grumpy widower in his 60s who lost his wife, Sonya, about 6 months ago. He had devoted his life to taking care of her, and her death left him with no interest in continuing his life. Throughout the film, Otto tries to commit suicide several times but fails each time. He believed he had achieved all that he could in life and had nothing else to do.
Otto finds it difficult to be nice to anyone, whether it's his coworkers, his neighbours, or strangers, as he thinks everyone is stupid and frustrating. Despite exercising regularly, he is shown to be much fitter than his younger neighbours, highlighting that while there's a lot of talk about exercise these days, we are still not as fit as previous generations. However, a young and lively woman named Marisol moves into his neighbourhood with her family and forces her way into Otto's life. She brings colour back into his life and talks sense into him by saying: “You think your life is so hard because everybody’s an idiot and you have to do everything on your own. But guess what. You can’t. No one can. I think you should be happy that someone was trying to help you get through a creepy day. Even if they’re an idiot.”
In the flashback, Otto was a young man full of vigour, though reserved in nature. He longed to serve in the army but was disqualified due to his diagnosis of having a “big heart” — weird, isn't it? Little did he know, that heart of his would come in handy. At the train station, he caught sight of a breathtakingly beautiful girl, Sonya, on the opposite platform. When she dropped her book by accident, Otto was spellbound and immediately ran across the tracks to retrieve it for her. Their encounter led to marriage, and Otto loved Sonya with all his heart. This flashback reminds us of the power of serendipity and the importance of cherishing every moment, especially those that bring us love and joy. We all need this reminder from time to time, don't we?
The third movie I watched was “The Professor” starring Johnny Depp. In The Professor, Johnny Depp plays the role of Professor Richard Brown, who, in the opening of the film, is told by his doctor that he has advanced-stage lung cancer. Brown is told that if he undergoes treatment he’ll have a chance to live another year and a half, but if he doesn't, the most he’ll have is six more months to live. Brown decides not to get the treatment done. He only shares his medical condition with his best friend and decides to do things that he otherwise wouldn’t have. He was already an eccentric professor but is shown to go even more nuts. He gave a speech to his small class which touched me.
“I hope your parents told you that you f**king die at the end. You’re gonna die. You’re gonna die. You’re gonna die. (Pointing to different students each time) One day, even our blessed Rose will die. So, what I’m wondering is, why the f**k do we sort of float through this weird thing called life without living? You know, live. Don’t exist. Don’t simply exist. That’s boring as f**k. Live. You know. Stir some sh*t up. F**k some sh*t up. What I wanna focus on is us enriching our lives. And try to extract some sort of wisdom that we can carry with us. You know, something other than mommy and daddy’s baggage. May we forever remember that in each and every moment we are composing the stories of our lives. Let’s aim to make it a meaningful read or at least, an interesting one, yeah? All right. Cheers.”
In the television series 21 Jump Street that ran from 1987 to 1991, Johnny Depp played the character Officer Thomas "Tom" Hanson Jr and worked alongside his colleagues who pretended to be high school or college students due to their youthful appearances. All of them were full of life and very active, literally jumping all over the place, the way my generation did, without even thinking of exercise or fitness. That’s exactly what is the need of the hour. We need to get fun back into our lives and become our own best friends.
Get ready to be pumped up because I am about to share with you an incredible project called Project DiE! Are you ready to make the most of every moment? We often wait for milestone moments to start pursuing our dreams, but with Project DiE, we say why wait? Let's start right now, right here! Imagine living life as if tomorrow was your last day, seizing every opportunity and making every moment count.
The recent earthquake reminded us that life can change in an instant, and we have been given a second chance. So let's make it count! We are giving ourselves until our birthdays in 2024 to achieve our physical best, improve our relationships, and do all those things we've always wanted to do.
The "i" in Project DiE represents YOU, the most important person in your life. By becoming your own best friend and treating yourself the way you deserve, everything else will fall into place. We are aiming to be our best selves in every sense of the word.
Personally, I am excited to become the strongest and fastest version of myself, smashing my personal bests in half marathons and strength training. What about you? Let's make Project DiE the best thing that ever happened to us and start living our best lives!
Dr Rajat Chauhan (drrajatchauhan.com) is the author of The Pain Handbook: A non-surgical way to managing back, neck and knee pain; MoveMint Medicine: Your Journey to Peak Health and La Ultra: cOuch to 5, 11 & 22 kms in 100 days
He writes a weekly column, exclusively for HT Premium readers, that breaks down the science of movement and exercise.
The views expressed are personal