I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.
— John O’Donohue
There’s a moment early in the film, “The Way” in which Tom Avery (Martin Sheen) is driving his son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez) to the airport. Daniel is setting off to see the world after dropping out of grad school and Tom is having none of it. Daniel suggests that his dad join him in the adventure but Tom can only offer a lecture in return:
“My life here might not seem like much to you, but it’s the life I choose.”
Daniel replies, “You don’t choose a life, dad. You live one.”
Daniel’s longing to be surprised by the unfolding of his life is perfectly and painfully contradicted by his dad’s singular vision for how that life should unfold.
Tom has forgotten what it feels like to flow like a river and Daniel is fighting hard against his own potential for the same forgetting. The life he pursues, the living he chooses, becomes the source of his father’s redemption.
None of us has wandered too far from the river. The trail back is well-marked and there is still plenty of daylight.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.