I love the movie Stand By Me. It’s a movie with kids, but it’s not a movie for kids. It’s a movie for adults who once were kids. Specifically, it’s a movie for men who once were boys – boys in search of adventure. Four boys in their treehouse hatch a plan to go on the adventure of their young lives, and they go. (Aside: How many adventures have you dreamed up, only to let the dream die before you ever take a single step toward making it happen?)
To me, it’s not so much the story that makes me love Stand By Me. The story draws me in, but it’s the moments of boyhood nostalgia that make me smile (like when they debate who would win in a fight between Mighty Mouse and Superman). When Teddy fake-punches Vern (makes like he’s going to hit him but stops at the last moment) and Vern flinches, then Teddy reminds him, “Two for flinching,” and proceeds to punch him twice in the arm. Vern has to stand there and take it because, as any true blue American man who was ever a boy knows, “Two for flinching” is a rule of boyhood.
As we grow up, we abandon some of the rules of boyhood, probably because they are childish. The flinching rule may be one worth resurrecting, though. Julien Smith tells why in his brilliant little book, The Flinch (available for free on Kindle here) – “The ability to withstand the flinch comes with the knowledge that the future will be better than the past… you can choose how to act, and if you choose right, it builds your confidence.” If you haven’t read it yet, get it now and start reading. Beating the flinch may be the only hope for our dreams.
How do you flinch? What can you do to change?