And We’re Walking

“We’re walking.  We’re walking.  And we’re stopping.”

Ring any bells?  Probably not, unless you’re a fan of really, really obscure movie quotes.

In an earlier blog post, The Wrong Week To Stop Sniffing Glue, I mentioned the American Film Institute’s List of  Top 100 Movie Quotations.  Most of them are lines you’d know in an instant.  And in that post, I shared some of my favorites.  But that’s not important right now.  (Uh, that last line is from ‘Airplane!’.  It’s not in the Top 100, but it is a well-known one.  Here’s a clip of it: )

But for every well-known movie quotation, there are probably 100 relatively obscure ones.  Obscure, that is, unless you’re a big fan of that movie.  So allow me to share my absolute favorite random, obscure movie quotation with you.

It’s from the 1993 movie “Dave.”  It’s one of my favorite movies—and not because the main character has the same name as me.  It’s a feel-good movie, with tons of laughs, and a powerful message.  Without giving too much away, I can tell you that “Dave” (Kevin Kline) happens to be  an uncanny lookalike for the President of the United States and is recruited as his momentary stand-in.  Well, things don’t turn out exactly as planned and Dave ends up continuing the masquerade.

There’s a scene in the movie where the actress Bonnie Hunt plays a White House Tour Guide.  You can see it here:   (SPOILER ALERT:  This particular clip goes on for about three minutes.  The scene I’m referring to is only the first thirty seconds of the clip.  Once the clip moves away from the White House tour, you should stop watching if you don’t want spoilers for the rest of the movie!)

As the White House Tour Guide, Bonnie Hunt is leading a small group—walking backwards as tour guides often do.  But as she shares facts and figures with her tour group, she controls the flow of their movement with the line, “We’re walking.  We’re walking.  And we’re stopping.” The authority with which she delivers these directions to her group seems to exude this sense of momentum and inertia that can literally propel the group forward.

I have absolutely no earthly idea why this scene stuck with me.  If you watch the clip, you may also wonder why it stuck with me.  Or wonder what drugs I may have been on in 1993.  It’s not outwardly hilarious.  And yet I find it very funny in the way she literally ‘wills’ the movement of the tour group with her commands, lest they get distracted or begin to slow down—unless she wants them to. (“And we’re stopping.”)

But the scene, unwittingly, also gave me a tool that I have been able to use—for both myself and for my family.  Whenever I find myself ‘stuck in park’, you know, just kind of dawdling, daydreaming, or, more likely, procrastinating, I actually will say to myself….”And we’re walking.”  And it works!  That stupid phrase making fun of the White House Tour can actually jar me out of whatever distraction I’m experiencing and get me moving forward again.

Best-selling author Brian Tracy shares a similar technique, where he encourages saying the phrase ‘back to work’ when you feel yourself getting distracted.  As he explains it, you repeat ‘back to work, back to work’ to regain your focus.   That’s a great method, too—I just prefer mine because it also invokes a memory of the funny scene from the movie every time I use it.

So how does this work as a tool for my family?  Simple.  Whenever we are trying to go somewhere, get somewhere, or move from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’, there seem to be distractions along the way that slow things up.  Typically this happens if we’re at some activity or event where we seem to have no idea how to leave.   We’ve thanked everyone—or have we?  We’ve said ‘goodbye’ to everyone—or have we?  We know our intention is to leave—but somehow it’s not happening.

And that is when I say to the family, “And we’re walking.”  With a big smile on my face, but with purpose, nonetheless.  And I repeat it.  “And we’re walking.”  They’ve all seen the movie. They know the scene. They know that sometimes it takes a little help to get ‘unstuck’….to move forward.  “And we’re walking.”

And it works on the opposite end, too—when we’re trying to get out of the house and head to an event.  No matter what time we plan on leaving, we seem to have distractions jumping in front of us left and right.  And that’s when I say, “And we’re walking.”   We laugh.  We focus.  And then we’re walking.  It works.

So the next time you find yourself distracted, stuck, or just losing focus, try telling yourself, “And we’re walking.”  Hopefully, it will work for you, too!