1. Master your craft, and people will put up with pretty much any craziness from you. (Jiro Dreams of Sushi)
Whether you love sushi or not, it's worth watching this movie just for the beautiful cinematography. If, like me, you're fascinated by others' relentless journeys for perfection, you will also love this movie. When I'm rich and famous, I'm going to Japan and eating here. If I make my reservation now, I should be able to get a table by the time that happens. "Taste octopus that has been massaged for 45 minutes first" is now on my bucket list.
2. Don't put all of your money into a giant house. (The Queen of Versailles)
It is absurd this house these crazy rich people started to build. Then they lost all their money. Whoops. Don't do that, because it's really hard to find someone with that much money to drop on a half-finished 90,000 sq ft miniature city-state. What follows makes for an interesting study in the psychology of the ridiculously wealthy; specifically, what happens when one goes from riches to rags.
3. Dutch people have figured out social support. (Happy)
I've spent enough time working, visiting, and volunteering in nursing homes, from low-level assisted living to locked dementia units. I do not want to be in one. I plan on asking someone to clock me over the head with a frying pan when that's about to happen, assuming I haven't been chased down by a bear while cycling or consumed by a shark during an open water swim by then. But now, I think a better solution might be to move to Denmark. They have their shit figured out. Co-housing communities give people a built-in extended family to look out for them, whether it's single moms struggling financially or elders who need care and company. I'm pretty sure I could live out my life happily demented there. In fact, I might go there now.
4. My (theoretical) kid is not becoming an elite ballet dancer. (First Position)
So much pressure. So many kids beating themselves up, physically and mentally. I identify with and respect the dedication, and I'm all for going after your dream (also, these kids are damn impressive dancers). And I don't want to write a diatribe on the negatives of single-sport specialization at a young age. I just hope that any offspring I manage to spawn will spend a bunch of time trying a lot of different things and having fun. When your prefrontal cortex is fully developed, then you can go hell's bells down the rabbit hole after whatever single-minded pursuit your heart desires. Although by that age, you're probably too old to be a professional ballerina. Sorry.
5. Studying to be a master sommelier is pretty badass. (Somm)
Watching these cats buckle down for days, weeks, and months on end of straight studying, with their ginormous stacks of flashcards, and group venting/stressing sessions was very reminiscent of studying for my boards in medical school. Except having to do it while slightly drunk. Which may have made it a little more fun, but significantly more difficult. Respect. Wine is hard, and like the 600 flashcards worth of microbes and antibiotics I memorized several years ago, you'll probably need to re-learn all new things in 6 months since there was a drought/those microbes are now all resistant to those antibiotics. If I ever find myself at a restaurant that employs a master sommelier, I will tip generously.
6. We all survived. (Mortified Nation)
I loved this movie. I laughed quite a bit and I also cried a few times. Go watch it. In short, people read their adolescent journals, and much hilarity ensues, along with a lot of raw emotion and some scary/sad things. People go through all sorts of crap growing up; for some of us it's standard teenage angst, other people get hit with real life a bit sooner. But you know what? We all survived.
Warning, it will REALLY make you want to go back and read your diary/journal/whatever from your younger years.
7. Being the best at anything involves the same basic principles. (Generation Iron)
No, this is not surprising. But when it becomes evident by watching a movie about bodybuilders, and you see such obvious parallels between this unique, muscle-bound population and endurance athletes, it makes you think. Also, I'm going to stop knocking body builders. Apparently they're not all on steroids, they're stressed and scraping by in an underpaid, under-appreciated sport, scrambling for sponsor support, eating/sleeping/breathing the details, and then it all comes down to how you do on a single day, which may determine whether you can feed your family for the next year or have to abandon your sport. Sound familiar, professional runners/cyclists/triathletes?