Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"If you're not first, you're last!"

I have watched more movies in the last three months than I probably watched in the three previous years. After completing my masters degree, there seemed to be more time - particularly on weekends - to sit back and watch movies. One movie has stood out from all of the rest. It has left the competition in the dust. You guessed it: Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This movie is destined to become an American classic. (Okay, probably not, but it is hilarious.) I have never been one to remember lines from movies but several from this movie, at least in a paraphrased sense, remain in my mind.

"Shake 'n bake!"
"Dear 8 lb, 6 oz, little baby Jesus."
"I [urinate] excellence."
"Ricky boo-bby, two first names."
"If you're not first, you're last!"

If you're not first, you're last?

I am very performance-oriented person. In school an A just wasn't good enough. I had to be first, number one, numero uno. Somehow an A+ was better than an A; 105% was better than 100%. Even after four years, adapting to the manufacturing climate continues to be a significant challenge because it can become so difficult to walk away at the end of the day and turn the work mode off. After all, there are always more improvements to make, more dollars to save, more pounds to produce, more problems to solve. It just doesn't end and it feels like I'm in last place because it is impossible to be first. However, I have slowly started to learn that there is something between being first and last.

Jesus adds some interesting perspective:
"But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first" (Matthew 19:3o, NIV).
"This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first" (The Message).