I recently saw the newest Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, and it was spectacular. A bunch of misfits and ne'er-do-wells fighting a common enemy for a common good, and they literally save the galaxy. Honestly, I was pretty skeptical that I would even like the movie that much, and I'm a huge Marvel fan. I just wasn't sure it would really come together in the end, and I wasn't sure the storyline would even be that entertaining for me. I was pleasantly surprised.
My favorite character was Groot. He's basically a huge tree (literally - he's called a Flora Colossus) who can only say the phrase "I am Groot." (Well, actually, he is saying a lot of things, but we simple-minded folk only hear "I am Groot." It takes a more complex brain, like that of Rocket Raccoon, to understand what he is truly saying..but I digress.)
Basically, Groot is misunderstood - a lot. He looks different. He is intimidating. And literally no one can understand him. He is so so so different...."other-worldy" in more ways than the obvious. People assume that because he is so different, and because he is from another world, he can't possibly be one of us. He doesn't think like us, or feel like us, or act like us. He is, quite simply, not "us."
(Just so you know, a spoiler alert is coming, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, please go watch it, then finish reading this post.)
Towards the end of the movie, the Guardians must do something drastic to defeat Ronan and save everyone else. What ends up happening, is that to save his friends, Groot creates a protective covering of branches to surround them. He used the thing that made him different to help the people he loved, and in doing so sacrificed himself. When Rocket Raccoon understood what he was doing, and what would ultimately happen, he asked Groot, "Why are you doing this?!" His response: "We are Groot."
I'll tell you what, I wept for days after that.
Sometimes I make fun of myself for learning such huge life lessons from movies. Especially comic book movies. But, it happens, like all the time. In this case I learned that no matter how different we seem, or where we are from, we are all from the same tree, so to speak.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting the stunning Kate Bosworth. It was completely random. She just happened to be at a bar that I was at near my hometown. I would like to say I confidently walked up to her and like "Hello, Kate. It is very nice to meet you. I am a huge fan. May I take a picture with you?" But that did not happen. Luckily, I was with a much braver friend, who gave little to no shits about looking like a crazy person, and walked right up to her and asked to take a photo with me.
Kate was very pleasant, even though we were totally interrupting a conversation she was having with her gorgeous husband. She shook my hand as I introduced myself. She smiled. She said she'd be happy to take a photo with me. She literally made my night.
In typical now-a-days fashion, I immediately uploaded the photo to Instagram and Facebook. I was so excited. I was not, however, prepared for the comment feed that followed.
"What in the world happened to her face?"
"Do her features look a little alien to you?"
I was absolutely mortified.
What if she somehow sees this photo (that I've already tagged her in) and she sees these comments?! How horrible! I was baffled that anyone, let alone my friends, could ever say such nasty things about another human being.
Of course, thinking about it later, I realized that this happens all of the time. I'm guilty of it too, much to my own disappointment. We somehow think that because these people seem like they live in another world (i.e. "Hollywood") they are somehow different than "us." They don't mind if we make fun of what they do to their faces (even though they probably had work done to cover another insecurity that someone else made them feel bad about). They don't mind if we make fun of the way they speak or the way they walk or the clothes they wear or the work they do.
They aren't "us" right?
But that night, I shook Kate's hand. She smiled at me and said "Hello" before turning back to have a drink with her husband. I hate to break it to you, but she is actually quite like "us." She just had more money to get the plastic surgery to get rid of the things she didn't like. All I could afford was the concealer to hide my acne, and the tweezers to get rid of my unibrow.
In the end, I'm no better than any of the people who said those things about Kate. It just seemed so personal because I met her. I will tell you now though, I will be much more mindful of the things I say about other people, no matter how distant from me they seem. Because "We are Groot," after all, and I honestly can't see it working any other way.