The Pleasure of the Universe

Hugh Jackman:

One of my favorite movies of all time and definitely my favorite quote from a movie of all time is from Chariots of Fire, which I loved as a kid. And Eric Liddell, who’s the religious runner who decides not to run on the Sabbath during the Olympics.

So there’s this great scene. He’s meant to be going off after the Olympics to do missionary work in China, handing out Bibles or something, and his sister’s talking to him, and he goes… She’s like, “You’ve got to throw away this silly running thing. We have really important work, God’s work, to do. Why are you doing this and spending time on this?” You know, basically, kind of accusing him of not following God’s will. And he just says—he looks at her and he says, “But I feel his pleasure when I run.” And I’ve always—somehow that line, it always makes me tear up just saying it. That’s what I feel onstage. There’s a kind of natural energy.

And what I keep saying to my kids actually: Don’t settle. Find that thing that resonates with you in that way, where you feel some kind of the pleasure of the universe, of consciousness. Like, there’s some joy where you feel you can do it longer. And in that way, it’s not such a Herculean effort.


That whatever that decision was, whatever that moment of clarity becomes, whatever gets you to that feeling of Eric Liddell on Chariots of Fire, “I feel His pleasure when I run,” for me, that was always, and I carry it today. Even though my feelings about religion are different than what they were when I was younger, the essence is the same, that there is some calling. As Joseph Campbell would talk about, “Follow your bliss.” There is some calling that is beyond the conscious brain’s strategizing of how to be happy and successful or meaningful in life. There’s something elemental and instinctual. And honing that, the people I admire the most really hone that ability in big decisions in their life and in… to small, day-to-day decisions.


And then I fall still and remind myself that this is all in service of something. I say a little—I say, “Om paramatmane namah,” which means, “I dedicate this show, or whatever it is, to the service of The Absolute”—there is something beyond the show, some reason we’re doing this. Same for your show. You know. There’s got to be a reason beyond just what the immediate thing is there, and that just connects me to that.

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