Drive Thru . . .
Up The Steps
The week of June 20
Everyone knows the story of the fictional Rocky Balboa! Rocky is a boxer from the Philadelphia Fishtown neighborhood, we meet him at age 30 as a washed up aging pro boxer. He is scraping by making a living by working as a collector for a loan shark. He sees beauty where no other man does, in the shy and homely Adrian who works at the local pet shop. His life is bogged down and then he gets “”the call.”” His moment in time and date with destiny comes in the invitation to fight the world champion Apollo Creed.
He carries the hopes and dreams of every underdog toward this showdown. His quest embodies the story of any person who has chased a dream only to realize that getting there is the real journey. The real glory for Rocky is not in winning, but in bringing his best to the moment, and being on his feet at the end of the battle.
The training sequences of each Rocky film are inspirational and legendary. Many forget that in the original 1976 film a badly out of condition Balboa reaches the steps of the Philadeplhia Museum of Art he can’t even jog to the top. He walks bent over with stitch in his side. By the end of the film he charges up the steps, leaps to the top, and with fists in the air looks across Philadelphia ready to face the challenges ahead!
In each successive film the steps of the museum became symbolic of the fighter being ready to face the battle at hand.
These 72 steps consisting of five flights containing 13 steps apiece are almost begging people to sprint toward the top. And sprint toward the top they do! Thousands of people face the challenge of the steps each year and for each it means something different. For some it is just the fun of recreating a movie moment. But for others, the Rocky Steps are symbolic of their lives. Some are beginning to face a new challenge. For some they are celebrating a victory, for others there is the search for inspiration in the midst of a struggle…but each step is a step toward hope. The desire to overcome, conquer, and the willingness to face whatever battle might be waiting around the corner.
In the book Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope, and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps. Two Pulitzer Prize-winners from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Vitez and Tom Gralish, spent a year at the Philadelphia Museum of Art interviewing and photographing “”Rocky runners,”” fans who climb the stairs and strike Sylvester Stallone’s famous pose.
It may sound like a movie tie-in, but it’s not. The stories range from the expected (businessmen celebrating a deal; a bridal party on its way to the reception) To the inspirational (a heart transplant recipient a breast cancer survivor, addiction, and other heartaches) to the unexpected….(missionaries, or a woman who had been a tragic car accident)
In the foreword, Stallone suggests a reason why people still run the steps: “”You can’t borrow Superman’s cape. You can’t use the Jedi laser sword. But the steps are there. The steps are accessible.””
In a world filled with chaos, sadness, madness, and hate. The Rocky Steps offer a brief reprieve….
Rocky may have gotten them there, but the trip to the top is driven by hope!
On a family trip I made the journey to the steps. I came as the ultra-movie-fan. I had grown up watching and being inspired by the films. I watched the films through a track career, I enjoyed the films as the character grew and got older, and I was moved deeply by the most recent of the films Rocky Balboa which brought the series to a close. I had to see the steps (and the Rocky statue)
For me the top of the steps meant something else. I looked out over Philly and saw a world of endless possibilities…and why not. The town where the birth of a nation began, a town that was steeped in history that impacts all of our lives, and a story of a character that inspires and has changed the lives of people all over the world. The view from the steps is spectacular and the possibilities are endless.
So it is for those who understand that hope for the moment might come from charging up the steps…but hope for tomorrow comes from knowing that you never face the steps alone.
Yo! Go For It!
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e-mail Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org