That Thing We Do


When I think of pure joy for our work, our art — the joy we feel when we create something good and it finds acceptance with an audience — I think of one of my favorite film scenes of the last 20 years.


In the 20th Century Fox film, That Thing You Do! (1996), a group of teenagers in 1964 Erie, Pennsylvania form a band, work hard to make a record and get the chance to go on tour, tasting a bit of success before conflicting dreams and personalities take them in different directions. School, jobs, military service, marriage, ego and all sorts of other things will divide them soon enough. But there’s one thing, during this one summer, that they all have in common: their music, their ‘thing.’ And as I’ve said before on this blog, we all have to have something that is ‘our thing,’ something that we love to do.


In this scene, the group discovers that the song they recorded (titled same as the movie) is on the radio for the first time.




I’d like to think that only an artist — writer, musician/composer, singer, painter, actor — can fully understand the sheer exuberance of this scene. Working and waiting and hoping for a chance. Having certain family or friends who just don’t get it. Having to work the day job while holding onto a dream. Finally getting accepted, getting noticed, getting an audience. (“I am Spartacus!” Victorious!) Despite the imperfect and blurry YouTube clip, the joy is palpable in this simple and sweet film, and I love how this scene captures it more beautifully than so many other films with the same plot (well-written and directed, Tom Hanks!)


Ultimately, though, the joy of this scene is not just for artists — anyone with a dream or passion deferred can relate to it.  We all desire such joy in what we do, in living out our God-given gifts.  So:


What would make you run down Main Street screaming with happiness?


What would you be willing to burst into a department store and announce to the world?


What victory would make you feel THAT much joy?


Whatever it is, do it. Create it, be an advocate for it, whatever ‘it’ is.  Even if you have to keep the day job forever, get your passion incorporated into the schedule and fabric of your life somehow, even if just in small bits at first.  If you haven’t started yet, start. If you’ve been at it for years and it’s just not getting anywhere, retool and try again. Just don’t stop that thing you do, that only you can do, that you were put on this earth to do.




(Disclaimer: I do not own this film; Posted from YouTube Video Account 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a dance war… )


4 thoughts on “That Thing We Do

  1. What a great article and clip Lisa; thanks for sharing. It’s so true – when we do what we love it brings so much joy. When you begin to follow your passion (and not what others expect you to do), it’s a hard journey for most. The sacrifices and all the work are worthwhile though, for the internal peace you have knowing you’re on the right path. Took me 20 working years to realise this and change direction. I haven’t looked back and love every minute of it!

  2. Thanks Dave. Yes — our joy certainly doesn’t need to look/sound this way externally, but it should feel this way internally, at least at some point(s) in our lives. And I agree with you that sometimes it is the smallest occurrence/step that gives us the greatest joy.

    This scene does what I think film is meant to do — magnify for us visually what we think/feel/desire/struggle with inwardly. So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks again for reading and posting.

  3. The sheer joy and excitement in the faces of these individuals (even though they are actors/actresses) demonstrates just how we know if we are following our hearts. When this much exuberance escapes from within us, it is certainly a sign that we are pursuing our passion 😉

    And you pose a very interesting set of questions. I sat here thinking long and hard about how to answer them. Over the course of my relatively young forays into writing, I have discovered two very important things that resonate with your post today. We all want/need to be accepted and to be loved, in our own unique ways.

    And rather serendipitously that thing I do that which makes me want to scream with happiness is connecting with people through my words and experiences. I don’t necessarily need to be published or make obnoxious amounts of money (those are external consequences of what I am seeking). Instead, every time I receive a simple comment from someone, a heartfelt connection between one person’s experience with another, that is what lights my fire, it’s what gets me screaming with happiness. Maybe not with the same outward intensity that these particular people do, but it feels the same on the inside 😉

    Thanks for a wonderful post and best wishes for an inspired day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s