There’s a Disney Pixar movie, Ratatouille, about a wee rat named Remy who has impressive culinary skills and big dreams of becoming a top chef in Paris. It’s mainly about the crazy risks he takes to achieve his big ambition despite opposition from his dad, Django. He would much rather little Remy stayed out of sight with the rest of his rat family.
Anyway, last week I was wiping the table after breakfast and the kids were watching the show, Ratatouille. (Yes dvds at breakfast. Sue me, it’s August.)
‘Sorry? What do you mean? I shouted. ‘I’m knee deep in crumbs and cheerios here’
‘You know’ she replied, ‘the daddy rat just wants to stay safe but Remy wants to take risks. So who is right?’
Indeed. Good question.
WHO is right?
Stumped by my five year. It was one of those moments when I just sort of looked at her. She looked back, waiting.
I didn’t really give her a proper answer. I mumbled something about how a bit of both is probably best. ‘Not too careful and not too crazy, you know?’
She seemed happy enough and so I carried on with my wiping.
But it’s followed me around a bit, that little scenario and her good question.
In a way I feel built for safe – perhaps comfortable and settled are better words. I don’t really like to get my feathers ruffled or leave the proverbial comfort zone. I crave the predictable environment, fashion my life to meet my needs and get happy. I wouldn’t say I’m a risk taker or particularly radical or ambitious.
I’m closer to Django than Remy.
I know those people who live a bit differently. I’ve heard those speakers and read those books. People who have done things that aren’t ‘normal’, that don’t seem particularly safe or comfortable or predictable. And in the past I’ve probably shook my head and thought ‘that’s nuts.’
But random white hairs have started appearing in my eyebrows. White hairs, people. They shattered the notion that I will eternally look and feel a youthful twenty-four years old.
And they sparked a million thoughts about the passing of time and being comfortable and what is radical and what is living a good story.
This post, it feels a little odd. It feels like it’s for someone else. Someone with a functioning brain who wakes up firing on all cylinders, filled with passion and drive.
Not a full time mum stuck in the trenches with reward charts and chicken dippers, where a very real risk is offering brocoli at dinner.
And yet, there is tension to be felt living in a culture such as ours.
There is a call to live life in a way that says God is real.
There are always opportunities to live a better story.
I wonder what scares me so?
Andre Gide says, ‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore’
And so, perhaps part of it is courage. I lack courage.
Anne Lammot says, ‘It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.’
And yeah, maybe I just don’t like the exertion or the effort required for taking a few risks. These days, I usually just opt for relaxed and easy, simple and slow.
He knew it was going take guts and effort to have any chance of reaching his dreams. He saw how high the odds were stacked against him. Moreover, his family didn’t approve and they were choosing safety.
It made such good sense to stay with them.
But he couldn’t escape who he was and what he wanted. A chance to live a great story.
Of course, there is wisdom and value found in safety and comfort but, in truth, how little room I allow for the radical, how rarely I pursue change.
Then again, what on earth have I got to offer, anyway?
My skill set has been significantly reduced in recent years and my current ambitions revolve around getting a decent cup of coffee and going to the loo by myself.
My world feels a lot smaller these days.
But while that is a very real truth it is not the whole picture.
Because I have Jesus. And he’s in the business of making stories better. He knows I feel a tension and a draw to more. He knows the situations where I can bring more of the kingdom. He’s already redeeming my fears and insecurities and constant desire for self-fulfilment.
He’s reminding me it’s not really about me and all I can accomplish. It’s about Him and whatever He might accomplish through me.
And so perhaps a better story can start with just having empty hands. Less stress and more surrender. Less worry and more wonder.
It seems –He is able do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine. Not because I am anything special but because of His power that is at work within me. Which makes me think He longs to shine a light so bright that people will catch it and want to be part of the story.
And so it is, in Ratatouille.
Because in the end, we see Remy’s family actually join him in the crazy cooking adventure in Gusteau’s Restaurant. There’s no predictable outcome and they’re scared but they’ve been inspired to do the thing that makes no sense. They want to be part of the dream and part of the change and live a great story.
They’re a little bit less Django and a lot more Remy.