Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Be your own Maverick

  • June 1, 2022

I had the great pleasure to see Top Gun: Maverick last weekend. Considering the action flick netted a Memorial Day weekend record $156 million domestic box office haul, I was one of many Canadians and Americans taking the “highway to the danger zone.”

The breathtaking dogfights, daring aerial stunts and real emotional stakes contained in this long-awaited film sent me back out into the world on such a high of adrenaline that lasted for many hours after exiting the theatre. The last film to create a similar lingering sensation in me was Mission Impossible: Fallout, also starring Tom Cruise, who many film analysts herald as “the world’s last true movie star.”

Cruise’s stunt-driven action blockbusters, for me, refreshingly defy the CGI behemoth gobbling up theatre dollars the past decade, led by Disney brands Marvel and Lucasfilm. The three-time Oscar nominee, turning 60 in July, creates a lot of good will with many audience members who are aware that he would perform 100 per cent of the stunts himself if the studio gave him approval.

There is an early scene in Top Gun: Maverick that is emblematic of Cruise’s defiance to completely surrender to the new cinematic landscape ushered in by comic book movies and Star Wars sequels. The scene I allude to features great character actor Ed Harris, who delivers a stern warning to Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Portraying a decorated U.S. Navy admiral, Harris said: “The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is headed for extinction.”

Maverick defiantly responds, “Maybe so sir, but not today.”

I greatly admire the ethos of this character, 36 years since we were first introduced to this headstrong and innately gifted airman who “feels the need, the need for speed.” He remains passionate and completely confident in his own skin and does his best to live fearlessly and joyfully from moment to moment even though he battles with unresolved traumas stemming from the tragic death of his friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (portrayed by Anthony Edwards) in the original Top Gun.

Reading my Bible daily has become a primary goal of mine over the past couple of years. One observation I made was how many times God and Jesus told His disciples to “fear not.” I consulted Google to learn how many times that two-word phrase appears throughout the Old and New Testament. The answer to that question is 365 times. Uncanny. One could suggest that God is giving us a simple credo to help each of us navigate each of the days constituting a year.

Living a life not ruled by fear requires us to resist being imprisoned by anxiety, doubt and depression. It requires us to make the decisions that affirm our heart and mind even though it may fly in the face of prevailing thought patterns marketed in our secular culture on mainstream media.

Take time each day to mediate upon how God wants you to use the gifts and passions He gave to you. And then ask Him for the grace and resolve to follow through on His plan for you each day.

Operating in a free-thinking fashion like this is an uneasy proposition no doubt, but Jesus says in the Bible that being a Christian is not supposed to be comfortable.

Without giving away spoilers, many characters in Top Gun: Maverick try to bend Pete Mitchell into an obedient follower of their methodology. Maverick actions in the film offers a compelling case on the triumphs that can come from going your own way.

There have been wonderful messages shared in our world as of late about the power of diversity. Often overlooked in these conversations is the importance of society to embrace diversity of thought and diversity of personality.

God does not forsake those values, however. Each of us is marked with the agency to impact the world in unique ways. We just need the courage to be our own Maverick.

(Amundson is the editor of Youth Speak News)

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