A gasp and then silence fell across the room. Jenna, a young and wide-eyed girl behind me said with a soft and nervous voice, “Mommy, are they okay?” Boom! The environment exploded with electrifying sound and brilliant flashes of light. Silhouettes of nearby friends illuminated all around us, projecting living shadows across the room. A melody of “oohs” and “aahs” rose from the crowd. All eyes were fixed on the glowing white screen in front of us. It was grabbing us and pulling us toward an irresistible climax. A rising sound, then a chorus of anticipation filled our ears. Then sweeping notes of joy flooded many of our eyes with tears. The protagonist on the screen had stepped into our souls. We feel how she felt. We see what she saw. We heard what she heard. The moment had stitched us into the story. We had arrived. And yes, Jenna, things are going to be okay. 

Movies tell stories. But they also connect us. They walk us through our own emotions, our own dreams, and our own fears. They scare us. They inspire us. They take us on a fanciful journey. They stir our imagination, transport us to new realities and ultimately entertain, delight, and stir our souls. The art of storytelling through the medium of cinema is an amazing experience. It is needed. Through it we can step outside of our own troubles and into new possibilities. Our human souls yearn for those stories and imagination to take us on journeys we would never venture alone. They can be healing, providing relief and therapeutic inspiration. They can be fun.

As filmmakers, we have the incredible privilege of helping bring this experience to the world. Directors, producers, actors, cinematographers, designers, composers, editors, artists, and other cast members all assemble to bring these stories and experiences to life through visual and auditory means. It is an art-form and craft that ministers the magic of storytelling, delight, and joy to our planet.

This Friday, Inside Out 2 shows up in theaters. Be sure to take your friends and family to see it and encourage others to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see it, hear it, and of course… feel it too.

A Feast of Words

“Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to the words of knowledge.”– Proverbs

I love coffee. Before sitting down to write this, I had to get up and get a fresh cup. They say, “You are what you eat and drink.” Now, I must confess, my “coffee” is as much milk as it is caffeine. It is like a bolt of energy swimming in a caramel pool of cream. If I am what I eat and drink, I guess I would say I’m a venti iced caffe latte. I’m one cool guy, slightly frothy.

All joking aside, it is true. What you take in becomes part of you. It gets metabolized, converted to energy. When we eat or drink, the nutrients are absorbed by our bloodstream and transported to our cells to fuel us, build our bodies, and repair tissue. We are literally becoming what we consume.

Just as coffee is fuel for the body, so are words to the mind. Words. Those tiny chunks of thought and concepts stream together to form knowledge, wisdom, and instruction. As we consume them, they metabolize into the neural fabric of our mind. New connections are formed in the brain. Electrical impulses dance across the mesmerizing network of living cells, attuning to the cascade of meaning and intelligence, absorbing the nutrients and literally growing new thoughts, concepts, and perceptions. We are becoming what we hear and read.

What are you becoming? What new words are you feeding on today? Did you sip on some tweets, snack on a podcast or feast on a novel? What words are shaping you? Is it a good diet? I confess, it is often easier to go with handy pre-processed words. They taste good and take less time. But they don’t cause you to think deeply or leave a lasting impact. They can even come with unhealthy side effects like misconceptions, biases, and fabrications. I find a healthy diet includes novels, scientific reviews, research papers, and well-informed articles. Be careful what you read.

Words are fuel. They power our life, our worldviews, our capacities to solve problems and our ability to make an impact. Go grab some prose. Stock up on paragraphs and phrases. Chow down on a satisfying dish of poetry. Feast on a nourishing buffet of knowledge and become what you eat. Oh, and feel free to enjoy some coffee while you are at it.

Thanks for reading my words today.