Happy Tears, "The Gap," and Embracing Rudy

I’m clicker challenged. After my boy Max left for college, I'd phone him when Curtis was out of town. Not because I was lonely. Not because I missed him. Not to see what he was doing or how he was doing. 

Max in Prescott, AZ (note the squatter behind him.)

Max in Prescott, AZ (note the squatter behind him.)

But to ask how to play a movie (“Videos” we called them.)

I share this not to show what a heartless mother I was. But by way of an explanation as to why, from 10:30-midnight last night, I watched a football movie called “Rudy.*"


The only clicker I’ve mastered in our uber tech media system is the TV channel changer “Guide” button. 

The only clicker I’ve mastered in our uber tech media system is the TV channel changer “Guide” button. 


It was either Rudy, HGTV, Full House, Crime or Reality. Those were my choices.  Faced with a pile of ironing and nursing a HGTV hangover, I opted for Rudy. By the final scene I was sniveling, slobbery, soggy mess of happy tears.

As I sniffled and dripped through the final credits, I found myself wishing it were replaying so I could watch it again. Which got me wondering:

What about it made me so miserably, snottily, soggily happy?

I’m Rudy. I'm not the 3rd of 14 children; dyslexic, or a 5'6" 165 lb. pip-squeak aspiring to play Notre Dame Football; nor would Sean Astin play me in a movie (I hope). But, when it comes to hopes and dreams, I’m Rudy.

“Everyone striving to do creative work—be that as a writer, artist, actor, et al—is a Rudy.”

Unless—UNTIL—we are recognized for our creative work, we are a Rudy. Every one of us is an underdog. We are the little engines they say “can’t.” We are too this; not enough that. We may be almost, but . . . We are wrong.  

“And the biggest-baddest-hardest part of being a Rudy is that even after we are recognized for our creative work, we will still be Rudy.”

Because our appreciation for creative work is what draws us to do it, there is a disparity between our skill level and what we recognize as good—what Ira Glass calls “The Gap” in a vimeo of that title*. And because that drive to go farther, experiment, stretch is inherent to creators, our skill level will always chase our sense of taste, our appreciation. So while it can shrink, the Gap never goes away. 

“We begin as Rudy, and unless we quit, we will finish as Rudy.”

That’s why watching Rudy brings on the Happy Tears. Because it is so darn hard, but that doesn't stop him. Rudy set a goal, fought his his way to it, and won.

He could. He did. So maybe we—all of us Rudys—can too!

So what’s a Rudy to do?

Here's Ira Glass's Advice on how to close the gap:

“ Do a lot of Work

Put Yourself on a Deadline

Know it takes a while

Fight your way through the doubts”

— Ira Glass from the vimeo (Link below)

Watch: Ira Glass on “The Gap”

Read: More about Rudy Ruettiger

LIsten: To the Rudy Theme Song.

                Thanks for Reading!


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