Theater Therapy – Kung Fu Panda 2

In case you haven’t paid any attention to the weather lately, it’s a few degrees shy of being as hot as Hades in the American South.  We have yet to officially hit that wonderful season known as “summer” but nature has deemed it necessary to give us free samples of summer weather this spring. And just how have I been enjoying my free samples of summer you ask? In the mornings I fix concoctions of frozen mangoes, strawberries, peaches and blackberries with a bit of yogurt or almond milk. I call it my A/C in a cup since I don’t have working A/C in my car.  Although I arm myself with ice cold water for my 45-60 minute commute home from work I’ve been waiting out the heat inside of the neighborhood movie theater.

Ahhh, yes, my neighborhood movie theater is located a few blocks away from my job. It is not one of those quaint, renovated historic buildings. It’s a sprawling, super-sized, cinematic wonder with over 20+ screens featuring over-priced snacks ($15 for two hotdogs and a soda?!?!?!?), $5 movies before 6pm and *cue fanfare* A/C! Less than 10 minutes away there is also one theater with deals as low as $3.50 for NEW movies. Of course a week’s worth of movie theater visiting can easily add up to a tank of gasoline. Thankfully there are two bookstores located within 10 minutes of my job as well.

I am one happy camper. 🙂

This first post on Theater Therapy was inspired by the new Dreamworks  release Kung Fu Panda 2 starring Jack Black as the titular hero. The first installment of this furry franchise, Kung Fu Panda, hit theaters three years ago. I approached both films with a weary eye, knowing Dreamworks has been trying to score another Shrek-like success for years in an effort to compete with Pixar (Toy Story, Up, WallE). My goals were to hopefully get a few laughs, enjoy the creativity of the animation sequences from the perspective of a wanna-be-animation-student and cool off from the 90+ degree heat.

Without giving away too much of the plot, Po (aka Kung Fu Panda voiced by Jack Black), faces three challenges during this film: 1) Learning his origins; 2) Learning how to achieve inner peace; and 3) Defeating a pretentious peacock trying to conquer China. All three challenges were pretty daunting, but the one that I found the most interesting was achieving inner peace. In a very pivotal moment of the movie the pretentious peacock named Shen asked Po how he could have peace when so many horrible things happened to scar him for life. In Jack Black fashion the response went something like this:

Po (Jack Black): Scars heal.

Shen: Actually, wounds heal.

Po: Then what do scars do? (thinks a moment) *menacingly* Scars fade!

Essentially Po explains that he has made a decision to be at peace regardless of his turbulent past or chaotic present. This was a good reminder for me as I shoved thoughts regarding bill collectors, tuition fees, rent reminders and job ads to the side while I lost myself in a panda’s fictional quest to save kung fu from something that could destroy kung fu.  While external circumstances involve a varied amount of my control and influence, my decision to be at peace is all on me.  Admittedly some of my stress is the result of poor planning while a number of other factors contribute to the heightened sensitivity of my proverbial “last nerve”.

In the midst of it all I think of how I am learning from my mistakes and discovering just how tough my resolve really is. Each week I watch news footage of natural disasters and political unrest occurring all over the world, events that make my personal crises so small in the grand scheme of things. But in my world those personal crises are gargantuan in size……calling for an equal measure of peace.

What types of activities are your go-tos when you’re stressed? What do you do to be at peace or stay peaceful during stressful times?

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