Hugh Jackman: An Inspiration
Hugh Michael Jackman: October 12, 1968-
Who Inspires You?
Whenever the question is asked, "who inspires you?" it goes without saying that the answer will almost always relate to someone who is like you. If you're a musician then it is a particular musician that inspires you, and every writer has a favorite author that inspired them. I personally find it difficult to be inspired by astronauts, because I have no aspiration to be one. Obviously, I am impressed by astronauts, but I find myself unable to relate to them. For one thing I'm not very good at math, and another I'm claustrophobic. I think those two points alone would amount to an immediate rejection of my astronaut application. But start talking about writers, or singers, or best of all- singer songwriters- and I'm all ears. I want to know everything about them. I think we are inspired by those with whom we share some common interest.
So why am I inspired by Hugh Jackman? He's not a writer. I'm not an actor. But I do sing and Hugh sings so there's one thing we have in common, and in a recent study of his life, I've found we have a lot in common.
For one thing, we are almost the exact same age. I turn 50 this year on August 22nd (for information on where to send gifts just email me) while he turns 50 on October 12. We were both born in 1968. We are both the "baby" of our families. While I have no pedigree in psychology I do believe there is something to the belief held in those circles that baby syndrome is expresses itself in a certain craving by the youngest child to be the center of attention. Anthony Bunko relates in his biography about Jackman that there certainly was an element of attention getting in young Hugh.
"At home he (Hugh) staged magic shows and dancing competitions for his brothers and sisters. Hugh's siblings weren't sure if it was just youngest-child syndrome or if this was his way of shutting out the reality of what was going on around them. His sister Sonya has described her little brother as determined to get noticed..."
The "reality" to which Bunko refers was the loss of Hugh's mother when he was only 8 years old. She didn't die, she left the family. In this I see yet another similarity between me and my favorite actor. I lost my dad at the age of 10. He did die. I know there are differences here, but such significant loss to a child can have devestating consequences. In one sense I think it would've been harder on Hugh because his mother actually chose to leave the family. He struggled with a sense of rejection and fault for many years. Looking back he understands that his mother was suffering from a severe form of post-partum depression. In fact, it was so bad that Hugh didn't live at home for the first 18 months of his life. He lived across the street with his godparents. Adding to the dysfunction of his family was the difference in religious beliefs held by his parents. His father was a serious Christian, and so it seemed, was his mother. However, over time his father's passion for the faith increased while his mother's devotion waned. Hugh's father, Christopher Jackman, even took Hugh to see evangelist Billy Graham when Graham came to Australia for a revival meeting.
"For two or three years I thought I might want to be a minister." Hugh said.
Though the pull of ministry didn't last, the ideas of forgiveness and understanding stuck and remain as enduring hallmarks of Jackman's character.
Hugh with Dad, Christopher John Jackman
"The main thing I love about my dad is I've never heard him say a bad word about anybody, including my mum. The temptation must have been huge. I love that quality about him."— Hugh Jackman
Hugh with Mother Grace Jackman and Daughter Ava
Troubles in Childhood
Hugh's mom struggled with severe depression and eventually left the family and moved back to London. Hugh, as were his 4 siblings, was left feeling abandoned and confused. Instead of feeling bitter and angry, emotions he was tempted by, he began to think of why his mom felt she had to leave. What were her reasons? This sensitivity led him to seek her out in his early teen years. He would spend 2 weeks a year at her London home where she would take him to West End plays and musical productions, instilling in him a love for theater. Later in his life Hugh had this to say about his mother.
"Mum and I have come to a peaceful place with our situation. We got through the hard times and resolved things finally. I've always been close to her and never felt angry at her, which I can't explain, and which some people find hard to understand."
I am also moved and inspired by Jackman's ability to find the good in a difficult situation. He went on to say,
"Some people find it hard to finish and let go. Not me. I move right on to the next thing, and that's probably a defense from when my mum came to visit and dropped in and out of my life. I had to learn to enjoy her when she was there and get used to the fact that it wasn't permanent. It's ultimately not such a bad quality to have, because nothing really is permanent, is it?"
What an amazing attitude! No self pity, no anger- just what good can come out of this ordeal? What lesson can be learned? It's an incredibly mature frame of mind.
Hugh's mother said of him,
"I am immensely proud of Hugh and all he has achieved. I stayed in regular contact with him over the years and we are now really great friends. I have watched all his films and I am delighted the way things have turned out. He had great presence even as a young boy. Everybody has always loved Hugh." Grace Jackman
Surely Hugh's effort to extract something good from a hard situation led to reconciliation and forgiveness.
Why is Hugh Jackman Always Smiling?
In my study of Hugh's life I have found the following reasons for his ubiquitous good nature and happy countenance:
- He forgives
- He has cultivated the ability to "move on" after a hardship
- He invests his time and care in the lives of others
- He is loyal and faithful to his wife
- He is kindhearted and tender with his children
- He does not take himself too seriously
It seems to me that so often a sense of melancholy can settle over us when we allow the weight of our personal problems to attract the bulk of our attention. Though Hugh is not practicing a biblical faith, he has latched on to some very real, very potent truths found in the bible. He understands that it is "more blessed to give than to receive." He truly takes joy from investing in the lives of others. It is simply a reality that if you will work at lifting others in this life you will invariably find yourself lifted as well.
Excellent Interview with Stephen Colbert: at 5:54 Jackman Tells a Very Funny Story About how his Son is NOT Impressed with him
Devoted Family Man
He Puts the "Hugh" in Hu-manitarian
Jackman Helps People by Investing in Their Dreams
If you love something, or someone, whatever, just go for it!— Hugh Jackman
How has Jackman's Marriage Maintained Such Resiliency While Other Hollywood Marriages so Frequently Fail?
Hugh and wife, Debra Lee Furness, have adopted a strategy for a successful marriage. It's very simple, but extremely wise.
Both have seen the marriages and relationships of famous friends and acquaintances fall by the wayside. The common denominator in most is spending time apart. Hugh said, "they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but we've seen that absence makes a person wander." At the outset of their marriage they made a promise to never be separated for more than 2 weeks, a promise they have maintained to this day.
Hugh and Wife Debra
Hugh Jackman Poll
Do You Find Hugh Jackman Inspiring?
I cannot be as handsome as Hugh Jackman, and I will never be able to sing as well as he sings. But inspiration isn't about looking at what you can't do. It's about looking at what you still can do. It is about looking at someone else's life and realizing you're not the only one whose had trouble. Other people have had problems and they've overcome them. When we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and start asking the question, "I wonder how they did that?" we have become inspired.
If we will venture a step farther with that question, and begin to really seek it's answer, and then if we actually find the answer, and then...if we will actually implement the answer in our own lives...we can change. We can change and overcome just as those who inspire us have. In what area of life do you need inspiration? Inspiration always speaks to our weakness, not our strength, to our need, not to that which we already possess. But, it speaks to the empty place we know CAN be filled. Where is your need for inspiration? Do you need to lose weight? Then don't just sit there reading this article. Go and study the life of someone who's successfully shed the pounds, and more importantly the bad habits that led to gaining those pounds. Are you sad, suffering from depression? Read the psalms of the bible for in them you will read the words of those who have suffered and found comfort, experienced loss and restoration. There you will find hope and inspiration. Once we find it and once we live it, perhaps we can actually be an inspiration to someone else.
Recently one of my sons had to write a paper for his high school lit class: Who Inspires You?
He chose to write about his grandmother, my mom. He wouldn't let me read it, though he did provide a copy for my mother. I'm not sure why he wouldn't allow me access. Maybe he thought my feelings would be hurt because I was not the subject of his inspiration. I'm not. In fact I'm glad he chose to write about my mother. It was a huge blessing for her to know that her life meant something to her grandson. Elderly people often engage in life review which is why they begin repeating the same stories. They are reviewing their lives to get validation that their lives meant something. What a joy it was to see her face light up as she read the words penned by her admiring grandson. Who knows, maybe my son's children will write about me one day.
So who inspires you? I'd love to read about your inspiration in the comments section.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Leland Johnson