WOOSH5 | Film lecture: ‘The Way’ a story about Resilience and Emotions.
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Author: Caroline Wiedenhof

The Way, a story about resilience and emotions

Conflict. Grief. Doubt. Uncertainty. Fear. Unrest. Joy. Friendship. Togetherness. Four personalities. A target. Emilio Estevez made the film The Way with these ingredients in 2012, with his father (Martin Sheen) as Tom in the lead. Even though the setting is “non-essential”, the film offers a wonderful handle to reflect on emotions that also play a role in and around the work. I watched The Way with a group of senior professionals and leaders who were traveling together. This blog ends with their lessons and tips about the film.

The Way starts when American eye doctor Tom Avery receives a phone call that every parent sometimes fears. A French policeman tells him that his forty-year-old son died in a storm on the mountain while he had just started the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. Bam. The story starts.

As soon as Tom gets the box with his son’s ashes in France, he knows exactly what to do: take his son’s ashes to Santiago.

It is busy on the pilgrim road to Santiago. But Tom does not need company, certainly not the three annoying walkers who turn out to be his companions on the long journey to Santiago.

Seated Joost is far too superficial to him. The last thing Tom is waiting for is Joost’s cozy small talk.

The pointed Sarah is vicious, angry and constantly seeks the attack.

Jack from Ireland, a writer with a writer’s block, asks far too confrontational questions, hoping for inspiration for a new book.

Tom himself strides through the Spanish mountains and valleys with great strides as if the devil is chasing him. And again and again he meets the three companions. Ultimately they form a colorful quartet that completes the journey together.

As the solidarity increases, the tension also increases. When the friends have settled down at the end of a walking day with a bottle of wine, Tom throws everything out. Anger, irritation, sadness, it’s all over. The wine certainly helps, but also the fact that the members of the quartet have started to trust each other that he now dares to give his emotions ample space. The three friends do not abandon Tom at the low point of his journey, when he also attacks them at his most unreasonable and most emotional state. Tom is not alone.

Estevez got the inspiration for this story about human emotions not only from his half-Hispanic father, but also from the fairy tale The Wizard of Oz. There too, a protagonist (Dorothy) is looking for the way home after her familiar world has literally been blown over. In this story too, three companions come to accompany her: a frightened lion, a tin man who wants to get a heart, and a scarecrow without a brain. They were the models for Joost, Sarah and Jack respectively.

We will not explain more about The Way, except that at the end of the journey all members of the group have progressed emotionally and spiritually. And as a group they have learned how to deal with individual emotions together.

What can you learn from “The Way”

We watched the film with a group of senior professionals and leaders. As a preview of the film lecture about The Way, they were prepared to record their lessons.

Lesson 1. Annoyance, surprise or wonder about people you work with is an emotion that almost automatically turns into sympathy or compassion when you get to know each other’s story.

Tip 1: Respect the time that someone else needs to open up. Keep reaching for him or her.

Lesson 2. The wounds inflicted on you by others can only heal in contact with another person.

Tip 2: Switch on the ignition, no matter how difficult that is.

Lesson 3: Do not judge or punish yourself for your emotions. They belong to life. Everyone has them. Don’t push them away but pay attention to them, otherwise they will get stuck in your body.

Tip 3: In the coming days, consider your feelings a few times, for example when you are on your way to work or on the way home. How do you feel? What do you notice about yourself? What do others notice? Bonus tip: Ask the latter to a colleague, girlfriend or boyfriend.

Lesson 4. Take the time to feel your emotions and quietly look at them and breathe toward them. The more attentive you feel, look and breathe, the easier they will eventually fade away.

Tip 4: Exercising calmly and naturally (eg walking or swimming) helps to process emotions. Get up and take a walk outside if you don’t know which way to go.

“You don’t choose a life, you live one” is on the movie poster of The Way. Sadness, grief, fear, tension, doubt, unrest and other emotions are part of life. So you better learn to handle it as well as possible. It increases your well-being and resilience, both in your private life and in a business context.

How alert are you to your own feelings and emotions?