|Written by Jeff Fish|
|Tuesday, 14 October 2003|
“We are drowning in information, but starving for knowledge” -- John Naisbitt.
This is how “The Journey” begins. “The Journey” is the story of Eric Saperston and his quest for knowledge, which he embarks on by asking questions of the generations that have traveled it previously. Saperston just graduated from college and is asking himself that age-old question, “What is life about?” His journey starts with him selling “sexy kind” grilled cheese sandwiches “made with love,” traveling to Grateful Dead shows. He decides to go and ask some very prominent and influential people to share their views. The first person was none other than Jerry Garcia, only two months prior to his death. Garcia was intrigued and invited Saperston to San Francisco, but time wasn’t on their side. This doesn’t stop Saperston; in fact, it only makes the journey that much more inviting. One of the things that gets me about watching this thoroughly engaging film is the one thought that all the interviewees seem to share: Go for your dreams. The power of the individual is so important, and the power of your dreams is paramount to achieving your goals in life. How will you know what power your dream has unless it’s put out to the universe?
One of the first interviews we see is that of Donald Keough, President of Coca-Cola. One of the most powerful CEOs in the world, Keough’s words of wisdom not only change Saperston’s life, but alter “The Journey” as well. “What separates those who achieve from those who don’t?” asks Saperston. The willingness to ask for help is in direct proportion for those who achieve. Can it be that simple? To simply believe in yourself and ask for help? Saperston and the rest of the crew set out on a year-long journey to ask some of the most recognizable faces and people of our time to share their thoughts on what life is all about.
The answers are surprisingly simple in the grandest of terms. Believe in your core self and your dreams, announcing your dreams to the universe. How will anyone know that your dream exists if it’s not been announced to the universe? The most important part of the dream is language. Saperston quotes an old Chinese proverb, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back,” believing that people are basically good and have a lot to share. Back in the early 1990s, I spent $3,600 for some career counseling. I wish I had seen this movie prior to that. It’s not that I didn’t use what I learned, it’s just that everything that was taught to me is in this movie. People like to help, and when put in a position of mentoring, they will rise to the challenge. Cynicism in our society is at an all-time high, and we have plenty to be cynical about; that said, we also have an opportunity to rise above that and achieve what we really want out of life.
There are plenty of great interviews in this documentary: Texas Governor Ann Richards (playing checkers), FBI Director William Sessions (who quotes Winnie the Pooh), actors Henry Winkler and Billy Crystal, entertainment producers Seth Epstein and Maurice Duke, the aforementioned Keough from Coca-Cola, Jack O’Neill from O’Neill Wetsuits, Oz Nelson from UPS, Famed horse trainer Monty Roberts, Artist Ann Freeman Lee and finally Hazel Woof, a 98-year-old activist. The insight they get across in the simplest terms is what really makes the movie work for me. The two most impactful interviews within the movie are Keough and Winkler, Keough for changing the direction of Saperston’s life and direction for “The Journey” and Winkler for his help and guidance through the entirety of the project. One of the best moments in the movie is the first meeting between Saperston and Winkler. The most general of questions is met with the most general of answers until Saperston asks, “What concerns you the most?” There is an uncomfortable silence, then Winkler opens up and really gets personal about his fears for his children and society as a whole; it’s a very powerful scene.
The main thing that I’m left with after watching “The Journey” is that we need to trust ourselves more. The cynical nature of society has been robbing us for some time now of our will to venture out and try new things. We’ve become so resigned to the fact that things won’t get better that we quit trying to make things better – we are more concerned with the outcome than with the journey. This movie has left me rejuvenated and with some hopes that maybe people and society aren’t as messed up as we’ve come to believe and expect. The extras that are on this disc hold 12 vignettes that were made for Volkswagen, some of which were used in the movie. “The Journey” short that gave birth to the feature and the Q&A session with Eric Saperston are really engaging. This is where he explains the power of language and the concept of “getting it out to the universe.”
I know that for a lot of people, the appeal of “The Journey” is its connection to The Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead influence felt here has to do with the attitude of going for one’s dream. There are also a number of musical interludes in this feature. Arlo Guthrie, Leftover Salmon, Bright Blue Gorilla, Hootie & the Blowfish, Edwin McCain, Sister Hazel and The Indigo Girls all make acoustic appearances throughout the movie.
I really enjoyed “The Journey.” It came out of nowhere and hit me like a ton of bricks. Are you living the life you want to lead, getting up each morning excited by the possibilities of the day and going to bed fulfilled? Life is short and we need to enjoy it . . . Peace!