I got around to watching the movie, Rush, last weekend. I enjoyed the story as I knew Niki Lauda from back when I was following Formula 1. Although he was no longer racing at that time, he was often at the tracks and we all knew his history. I personally enjoy true story movies, especially about people I know of.
There is a very interesting element in the movie that goes well beyond the racing and the telling of Niki’s story. It is also the story of two men and their outlook on life. Two men who had entirely different ways of dealing with life and entirely pole different outcomes because of it.
Niki is hard-working to the point of being obsessed. He sees problems and works to fix them. He has long-term goals and fights for those goals. On the other hand, there’s James. He wants the win just as badly, but will do anything to get it. He knows little about the cars he drives and instead pushes those around him to make the decisions needed to make him faster and better. He spends all his free time drinking, sleeping around, and it’s suggested that he takes drugs. His motto is to live by the day and seems entirely happy doing so.
We see Niki in a position where he almost envies James’s lifestyle. James is the first to marry and to a model, no less. He’s popular, while Niki doesn’t make many friends because he’s determined and takes no nonsense. We get the impression that Niki would like to live like James in some areas, but at the same time he understands that as long as he wants to win, he has to act like a winner. He makes plans that he knows will affect the rest of his career and even his life. He eventually marries the woman he loves and continues to race against his greatest rival, James.
Then the unthinkable happens. Niki allows himself to not do what he knows is best. He knows it’s too dangerous to race, but he gives in to those who think they know better and races anyway. It results in an accident that nearly costs his life. At this point, he can choose. Does he accept his fate, does he passively sit back and accept that he’s not meant to do what he set out to do? Instead, he fights. He hurts. He makes himself get back in that car, fear and all, knowing that those he loves are just as scared for him, and he races anyway.
In the end, James does win that one race and he goes on to party like only he can. Niki warns him that if he wants to continue racing, he’s going to have to train, make modifications, and get back in right away. James says he will. Tomorrow. That’s James’ whole way of thinking. Just on the day. He thinks he’s having fun. He thinks life is where he wants it. Instead, he ends up alone. His friends leave him because he finds others to make the money for him. His wife leaves him because he can’t sustain the relationship. He dies young, almost alone, and without much to his name.
I know the feeling of wanting to live each day as if it were the only one. And there is some truth to that. We have to live each day as if it were our last, but at the same time, we also have to plan and fight for our future. I’m so done living passively and expecting that nothing more will come. I hate the expression “what to do?” almost as much as “that’s just life”. Our future is what we make it. I have the choice to just let things happen or to stand up and make a change, hurt as it may.
Sure, some things are “just life” and we have to learn to roll with the punches. But just letting each day go by without even trying to effect change, no matter how small, won’t get us far.
I read an interesting comment today that resonated with me in reference to this movie and what it made me think of. It went like this:
“The only reason why you’re staying where you are instead of doing what makes you happy is because you’re scared.
The only reason you are not doing what you want is because there is still some part of you which doesn’t trust in the part that believes.”
I’m aware that not everything portrayed in the movie was entirely the way things happened in real life. But for the sake of the way the movie affected me, I’m writing it from the standpoint of the movie, not real events.