Are you resolved?

I’ve been thinking about what I can resolve to do differently. There’s plenty I could name, but it’s the resolve that gets you, isn’t it? There’s a scene, towards the end of The Untouchables, when Jim Malone (Sean Connery), his body riddled with bullets, wheezes at Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) through blood bubbling up from his mouth: “What are you prepared to do?”

Malone doesn’t ask Ness what he feels like doing, or what he thinks he might do. He doesn’t care about emotions, or reasoned probabilities. He’s seeking resolve. What are you prepared to do?

It’s worth asking ourselves, each of us alone, in the lonely night’s dark when bluster and delusion have left us, when the hard truths of our lives press in close as shadows. What are you prepared to do?

There’s so much I need to do, and so little I feel prepared to do, but those sad truths are neither here nor there. The question isn’t about what we aim to accomplish, so much as it is about what we strive for with everything that’s good within us.

This is liberating, if you think about it. You can’t control outcomes, after all. You can’t make your son stop drinking or your husband stop cheating or your daughter stop cutting herself. You can’t make the boys in the upstairs office give you that promotion, or guarantee that all your hard-earned savings won’t get poured down the drain by some cabal of feckless politicians, all of them blaming one another while they look to you to replenish the till.

You can’t control outcomes, but you can control your actions. You can be kind to your mother even if she no longer recognizes your face. You can pray five times a day — ten if you need to, hour by hour if you’re like me — for a temporary release from the grip of self-centeredness. You can be sure to tell each of your children every day this year that you love him. Every day. Look him in the eyes and say it.

Nothing you or I do guarantees a happy ending. The world can take everything from us like that. But each of us decides what his next step will be, and the step after that.

What are you prepared to do?


  1. Beth Impson

    Excellent reminder as last child leaves home (18 days!) for the Navy, and a new semester begins . . . and of course perfectly articulated. Thanks, Tony.

  2. I Live in an Antbed

    Profound question. And it is a question that truly matters. All the best laid plans of mice and men, you know. But right here, right now, I can choose. And the immediacy of my action has life in it. I have two words of focus for this year: Being and Blessing. And your thoughts here fit in perfectly with Being. Being in this moment. All here. Thank you!

  3. Cordeiro

    Everything I need to know about dealing with adversity, recruiting and hiring good employees, discipline, success, and indeed “teamwork” I learned by watching The Untouchables.

    Well said, Tony. Thanks!

  4. Post

    You’re all so very kind, telling me this is what you needed to hear. I hope you know I usually write these things out of selfishness, because I need to hear them. Nice to know I’m not alone in that.

  5. David Andersen

    One of my all-time favorite scenes; you got right to the heart of the matter. Great message.

  6. Beth Impson

    But Tony, what any one person needs to hear is what all of us need to hear. By making yourself vulnerable enough to share it with us, you help yourself to work it through and come closer to living it, and you help us to do the same. That’s not selfish. That’s courageous. God bless.

  7. Tony

    You’re too kind. It doesn’t take much courage to tippy tap away at a computer screen, knowing I’ll never have to look any of you in the face. But thank you for your kind words all the same.

  8. diane

    “— for a temporary release from the grip of self-centeredness” that pray I’m using now~SpotOn!

    have you heard Oriah M Dreamer say it in her poem The Invitation?

    “…it doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.”

    another stanza in that poem hits your point it seems..

    ‘I want to know if you can see the beauty, even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.”

    love what you are thinking and how you write it~

  9. karen

    God is sovereign or he’s not. I’m sure of that. All of what these kind folk have said and what you write illustrates the point. I happened upon this post because I wanted to see what you might have posted lately about the dreadful shooting in Arizona. What I really needed to read was your take on Sean Connery’s character in the Di Palma classic. I appreciate you Tony. Thank you.

  10. Tony

    I had not seen that poem or the poet, so thank you.

    I do have a thought on what’s happened in Arizona, though maybe a bit off the dead-horse-beaten path that other commenters are trodding. More later.

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