Gettin’ My Mind Right, Boss

cool hand luke

One of our favorite classic American films is Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman and Oscar Winner George Kennedy. Aside from Paul Newman’s famous blue eyes, greasy grin and grit, you’ll likely remember several essentials from the movie — the chain gang along the highway in the hot burning sun, Luke gorging down 4 dozen hard boiled eggs, the chesty woman car washer, the ogling over a photo of a civilian Luke with two good looking women on a night on the town that was smuggled into his prison mates in a magazine, and of course, Luke’s famous and fabled four to five near successful escapes from the prison work farm.

The movie boasts one of the all time memorable movie lines served up by the intolerant prison boss (played by Strother Martin) in violent, stuttering admonishment of Luke’s relentless charm and defiance: “What…we have here… is a failure…. to communicate.” Who can forget that deep southern fried ‘twang of a line?

Following another capture, it painfully appears that Luke has finally succumbed to the backbreaking will and force of the prison bosses. While attending to the beck and call of the guards, he eventually pleads that “I’ll get my mind right, boss. I’ve just got to get my mind right.” His broken, groveling display deflates the spirits of the whole prison gang like a beach ball. Living vicariously through Luke’s all balls out dare and do proves to be nearly unbearable when even his unconquerable spirit and charm appears quashed by the yes sir boss man jailers.  Hope springs again when he makes his final escape.

The allegorical prison for Luke was conformity. A keen anti-hero, anti-establishment prototype, Luke was attempting to break free from a microcosmic life of sanctioned oppressive conformity. Ironically, his rebel rage against convention on the outside is what eventually landed him in lockup in the first place. Still, true to his nature and spirit, Luke could never be kept down.

We’d all like to think that we have a little ‘Luke’ in us. Playing it cool until we find a way to finally escape the financial, emotional, psychological prisons that keep us from individually moving forward, closer to our ideal selves.

Living La Vida Luke-o requires taking stock of the stuff you’re really made of. Know thy self.

What are you willing to do to break free from the prisons of your current existence? What are you doing to truly get your mind right to free yourself from the oppressive forces of mindless conformity, mediocrity, and negativity?