Monday, May 26, 2008

Peace and Success

I saw a documentary film last night called "Homeless FC", about a football team made up of homeless men in Hong Kong.

At the end of the film, one of the younger guys on the team decides to move out of the homeless shelter and go back to school. He says even after he finishes school, he might still be nothing more than a delivery man. He may not succeed, but at least he'll have tried. And then his dead mother can finally rest in peace.

That was the most touching part of the film for me. His mother had died when he was a boy, but he still thought she was worrying about him, and he believed he could make her happy by trying to improve his life. He still felt this connection with his mother who had been dead so many years.

And he didn't worry that his mother would be disappointed if he finished school and still didn't find a better job. He didn't feel his mother would think less of him for making nothing of his life. He just knew his mother would be proud of him for trying, no matter what bad luck or circumstances worked against him. He seemed at peace himself with this knowledge.

This is pretty surprising thinking, especially coming from a culture that puts so much value on financial, material, visible success.

I'd love for my kids to feel this way after I'm gone. I'd love for them to feel confident and loved enough to think that I'd be proud of them for trying, regardless of whether or not they achieved somebody's idea of success.

As I watched that scene where we hear this young man's thoughts at his mother's grave, I felt oddly proud of him, as if I were his mother. I was impressed that he was determined to try to improve his life, but even more impressed that he realized he would be okay whether or not he succeeded in the end.

If this were a Hollywood film instead of a real-life documentary, the guy would be setting a much loftier goal for himself and we'd leave the theater with the "Rocky" theme song ringing in our heads. Instead, this man's story and his goal in life were so simple and ordinary. I think that's what I found so touching about him and about this film.

[The film has one more showing in Singapore, on Sunday, June 1 at 9 p.m. It's really worth seeing.]


lianain said...

Hi Shin,

Thanks again for coming to the screening. Wish I could have been there to say hi. It's been ages since we last met!

I think you'll be proud to know that Ah Lung finished his graphic design diploma last year and is now working as a typesetter in a printing firm. He's no longer homeless, but still plays regularly for the Dawn Team. When we met him in January, he told us he was trying to save up enough money for university. He seemed pretty focused and happy. We think he's going to do just fine.


Shin said...


That update on Ah Lung put a HUGE smile on my face.

It seems silly to care about a complete stranger I learned about in a film, but I guess if things go well for him, it's a small sign that all's well with the world after all.

I'll keep checking on your Web site for more updates about the football team. I enjoyed reading more about the guys in the film in your blog entries about the football club.