Meandering Monday about the Appeal of Underdogs and Late Achievers

What is it about underdogs?

My view of life is that it is a series of lessons to be learned, and various obstacles to be overcome. I think most of us see ourselves at times (if not all) of our lives as striving for something just out of reach, and not quite getting there. It’s easy to identify with someone who’s trying to achieve the impossible (Frodo & Sam in The Lord of the Rings, for example.) We root for the underdog the whole way, and live vicariously through him. If he fails it can be a real downer, although it mirrors our own shortfalls, but if he wins… it can give us just the encouragement we need to keep striving.

“The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha manages this quite nicely for me; I always get emotional when I hear it, and I know it’s not JUST the music. It’s an anthem for striving.

One of my favorite movies is Invincible (the dramatized story of Vince Papale, starring Mark Wahlberg.)  It may be my favorite movie – considering the fact that I’ve watched it more than any other film, with the possible exception of It’s a Wonderful Life (the latter movie has had the unfair advantage of being around ALL of my life and being a Christmas tradition, but I think I’ve made more conscious decisions to watch Invincible.)

So, what is it about Invincible?

This is an underdog movie, but it has the extra bonus of a late achiever (I didn’t see this movie until I was at least 50, so late in my life, too.) Vince (talking about the movie character here) hasn’t had much go right in his life, but circumstances (or just FATE) throw an opportunity his way to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles at age 30.

Vince hasn’t even played college ball, and the movie exaggerates how little experience he has had prior to making it to training camp. Throughout the film, Vince keeps finding himself blocked by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but he keeps pushing (although he is often discouraged – the good old Hero’s Journey.) In the end, he succeeds and makes it to his dream.

The movie energizes me. I probably don’t watch it enough.

Just saying…

We all need positive encouragement – I hope you all have yours.

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Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

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