In 2006, Disney/Pixar released the box office hit film Cars, spinning the tale of “hotshot” race car Lightning McQueen who is destined to win the Piston Cup, but along his journey gets trapped in the small town of Radiator Springs. Taken off the map years ago, the residents of Radiator Springs hold out hope that their now bypassed town will once again return to high popularity, and be graced with the love it felt in its hay-day. But town leader, Doc Hudson, knows better. He knows that his town has been abandoned, and no one will come to save it; just as his race crew abandoned him after his big crash.
Doc loathes McQueen. He sees only selfishness in this racing machine and thinks McQueen is beyond repair in this respect. Doc has every reason to believe that McQueen will cast his supporters aside as soon as he no longer needs them, because Doc had it happen to him. Doc Hudson, formerly The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, was the top race car of his time and won three Piston Cups, but he was in a tragic wreck. After recovering from his physical destruction, Doc returned to racing expecting a warm welcome from his team and his sponsors, but he received nothing of the sort. He was told that he was washed-up, too old to continue racing, and that they did not need him anymore for they found younger drivers more suited for the racing world.
Who Doc is and who he wants to always be is stripped from him in one fail swoop. So, he retires to Radiator Springs, never speaking of his past and never letting on that he is anything but a “doc.”
The history of The Fabulous Hudson Hornet reminds us just how fragile our worlds can be. We can dedicate our entire lives to something, let it encompass everything that we are, but that thing can be taken away from us at any moment.
When I graduated from college, I liked to equate my situation to that of Doc Hudson. Though I did not experience physical injury, the completion of college brought with it, what felt like, a swift end to my organized athletic career. Like the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, I was nowhere near ready to stop competing, but the difference between Doc and myself is that I have a team who would never leave me. I am surrounded by a group of people who offer me unwavering support in absolutely everything I do. When my final track meet ended and I just could not believe that it was all over, my family reminded me that no matter what, they would always be there for me and that the end of track did not necessarily mean the end of my world; I just had to keep moving forward towards my new dreams.
In the end, Doc sees that if he only opens his heart, his true supporters will lend themselves to him, and he in turn can help them. He helps McQueen see that being selfless and comprehending the needs of others is how you really win in life. While I was not ready to give up competing, I knew that I would never really be willing to accept the culmination of my career, but my team was there to raise me up when I needed them most.
So long as you realize who your true team members are, you will never be alone, you will never be sad for long, and your world will always be intact, even when it feels like it’s falling apart. The Fabulous Hudson Hornet and his ragtag team of misfit cars reminds us of the importance of surrounding yourself with people who would go to the ends of the earth for you.
How will you thank your team today?
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