Someone recently told me that I have an “old soul.” I don’t really know what this means except that, perhaps, I am viewed as something of a curmudgeon. If so, I suppose I’ll take it as compliment. Cynicism does tend to increase with age. But I am not always negative. Just mostly. Most of my favorite bloggers regard themselves as curmudgeonly, namely Francis over at Bastion of Liberty. I could hardly be in better company.

Last night, with the house all to myself and nothing productive to do, no beer at hand and not a cigar to be found, I wound up watching a mediocre movie unearthed from a pile of dusty DVDs in the corner. A bottle of whiskey was my only companion.

Unbreakable was not a particularly good movie, though far from the worst I’ve ever seen. It does tend to demonstrate how movies by M. Night Shyamalan can really only be watched once. Does the man have any schtick past some kind of random twist at the end? Though, in all fairness, any movie with Bruce Willis in it probably follows a similar pattern, minus the twist.

Mostly, it was a mindless affair, but one scene did intrigue me in a thoughtful sort of way. Bruce Willis’s character was bench pressing a successively greater amount of weight. Each time he struggled, as if at the very limit of what he could lift. Each time he succeeded in lifting it, much to his surprise.

As a deconstruction of the superhero genre, I suppose we should expect this. Superman effortless lifted planes, buses and buildings. Bruce Willis’s character was the opposite, a superhero who might be able to lift anything, but always had to fight for it. He never learned this because he always stopped at the point he really had to fight for it.

Bad DVDs aside, how true is this for most of us? How many of us stop right at the point of greatest resistance? How much of your own potential is undiscovered because you GAVE UP when things turned sour on you? It would be easy to blame your muscles, poor fleshy things that they are, for failing you. Blame the genetics, blame the weights, maybe just give up out of exasperation.

When you do that, your true potential is untested, and that’s something that bothers me greatly about our dying civilization. People encounter racism, or sexism. They fight the government or some lousy corporation. Or, maybe just run across some cynical, curmudgeonly bastard like me telling them they should give up… and they give up!

When, in reality, just past that point of greatest resistance, you might find you don’t have any limits.

Or maybe I shouldn’t drink whiskey while watching overrated movies. You decide.

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