Have you ever had a show or movie that you loved, but never really caught on with everyone else? I think we all have one or two we could name and for me, one is Joe Versus the Volcano.
Joe Versus the Volcano is a 1990 romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. While it received mixed reviews and was not the blockbuster hit those two were later known for; I loved it.
I have thought of this movie several times during this crazy transition we are making from a solid roof over our heads, plenty of space to live in, ample storage to an RV. Who actually does this?!
In thinking about the movie I see so many parallels in life. Joe worked previously as a firefighter where he experienced a trauma that led to him leaving that career and losing himself. He ends up working in a dreary factory in a job he hates with a horrible boss. He is chronically sick and doctors cannot find anything wrong with him until one finally diagnoses him with a “brain cloud”, that despite no systems will kill him in 5-6 months.
Upon diagnosis, the doctor tells him, “You have some life left, live it well.” Joe returns to his job to quit, telling his boss that he never quit before due to fear. “I’ve been too chicken shit afraid to live my life so I sold it to you for 300 freaking dollars a week.”
The following day a wealthy man shows up at Joe’s door offering him a deal. He will completely fund the time he has left in return for him voluntarily jumping into a volcano on a remote island to appease a fire god.
Joe half heartedly agrees and sets out on quite the adventure.
During a rather difficult time when he becomes delirious he has a revelation and thanks God for his life. Joe ends up living the life he wants in the present for whatever time he has left where old Joe was simply trudging through life. The director Shanley said one of the things he was doing was ‘writing a story about a guy who’d been traumatized, and all the color had drained out of his life”.
The movie portrays a story that is all too familiar. Joe lives life in fear, experiences a dramatic life altering event; believing he was dying, in order to take a risk. This also included allowing himself to fall in love with Patrica (Meg Ryan) and to really start living.
Does this sound familiar?
Sometimes it takes our world crashing down or turning upside down in order to wake up. None of us are going to jump into a volcano but for Carlos and I, selling our beautiful home and moving full time into an RV is close enough.
This experience is stretching us in different ways. There have been a couple times Carlos has said, “Are we really doing this?” My response has been, “It’s too late now. We have jumped into the volcano.”
If you have seen the movie, you know that Joe and Patricia marry and she decides to jump into the volcano with him. She says, “Joe, nobody knows anything. We’ll take this leap and we’ll see. We’ll jump and we’ll see. That’s life.” At that, they clasp hands and jump. We too are making a jump and know that we do not know what is next, but we will certainly find our and look forward to sharing it with you.
In the meantime, go watch Joe Versus the Volcano.