Tag Archives: Sacrifice

Why You Should Be Like Groot

The new Marvel movie hit the theaters last week and it’s raking in the dough. Avengers: Infinity War features Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Captain America and the Hulk,  matched against bad guy Thanos, and this is how it ends – C’mon, I wouldn’t do that!  Instead, I’d like to tell you why you should be like my favorite character, the tree creature Groot.

You may remember Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. He’s not as famous as the other Avengers, and he’s not even human. But he possesses some of the best possible human qualities without sporting any of those awkward looking tights.

The Backstory

Originally a bad guy from Planet X, Groot showed up on Earth to capture and study humans. But he himself was captured, and by the mentoring of Gorilla Man (?!), he became a positive force for good.

He’s been a good guy ever since, using his incredible strength to help the Guardians of the Galaxy protect Earth from a host of evil-doers. The least human superhero of all, Groot is a role model for us all.


Because of his tree-like anatomy, Groot cannot flex his larynx and talk like the other characters. So unlike the others, he doesn’t waste or mince words. No run on sentences, no blathering gossip, just direct and to the point.

In fact, he only says one thing: “I am Groot.” But he communicates everything with those three little words.

You have to know him to understand him, but friends Rocket and Star-Lord understand everything he means when he says, “I am Groot.”

We should all be as brief and concise as Groot.


Like jazz legends Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and  Miles Davis, Groot is a virtuoso improviser. In the moment and on the spot, he does his best work. He fits his talent and skill to the situation at hand and turns in imaginative performances that delight and amaze.

When the gang needs to reach a tower, he grows himself three times his size to reach it. When they’re plunged into darkness, he sprouts hundreds of tiny luminescent spores that light the way.

When they are overrun by the enemy, Groot saves his team by sprouting a branch, lancing a dozen soldiers in a line, and whipsawing them back and forth into unconsciousness.

The breadth of his creativity is amazing. Groot never uses the same method twice to solve his team’s problems. But whenever they need a solution, he steps up to perform like a jazz soloist at the mic.


Once Groot picks a side, he stays with it through thick and thin. When he gets arrested with his friend Rocket, he could have smacked the human jailers aside and left his buddy to fend for himself. Instead, he goes to jail with his friends, protects them all, and engineers their escape.

He doesn’t look to upgrade or trade up for a better deal. With his strength and skill, he could join any gang he wanted and demand any concession they have to give.

But Groot is loyal to a fault. He accepts every new team member without reservation and gives them his wholehearted support. If you are a part of his team, he will always have your back, no matter what you look, sound, or act like.


At a critical moment when death in battle is imminent, Groot chooses to sacrifice himself so that his friends can survive. He grows himself around his team, in a protective branchy cocoon.

Rocket implores him to stop. “No, Groot! You can’t! You’ll die! Why are you doing this? Why?”

Groot does it because he is selfless. He puts the greater good above himself and demonstrates what it means to be part of a community. He is willing to sacrifice himself, knowing that in the end, his actions will lead to survival for everyone.

In doing so, he brings his team together in the strongest way possible, with a deep, compassionate philosophy he conveys by uttering the greatest line in the movie – “We are Groot.”

I challenge you to watch this and not get teary-eyed.

WE Are Groot

If we are to survive as a community, a democracy, and a civilization, we must be Groot. We must follow his lead and display our higher human qualities.

We must communicate directly and honestly.

We must improvise to create positive solutions to the problems that threaten us.

We must remain loyal to our friends, fellow humans, and other species with which we share our planet. Even when times are tough or we’re tempted by monetary gain.

And most of all, we must be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Because if there’s anything I’ve learned about the human experience from sitting in a movie theater, it is this one immutable truth:



Why This Is A Sad Day For Me

Today is International Women’s day, and I salute all the trailblazing, pioneering women who have brought about the tremendous progress women have made in our society. This is a joyous day for women. But it’s a sad day for me.

Because of what March 8th meant for my mother.

A Powerful Woman

My mother was an amazing singer with a powerful, rich voice. She entered a singing competition, the American Idol of her day, with the grand prize being a spot in New York City’s prestigious Metropolitan Opera Company.

Mother placed very high in the competition, but she didn’t win. That prize went to another young Armenian singer with a rich voice, Lucine Amara. Amara was one of those pioneering women, who during her 41-year career at the Met, had to sue her employer for age discrimination. She won her suit, and performing women all across the country benefited.

Meanwhile, my mother’s career got a boost from the contest. Big enough to leave home, move to Los Angeles, and pursue a singing career and a recording contract.

She went into a studio and cut a demo record. While she was trying to shop it to RCA, she auditioned for singing roles around LA. And one night during this time, she went to sing at the USO Club in Hollywood.

The Night Everything Changed

My mother had no way of knowing that the love of her life would be waiting for her at the club. He was a sailor on a 3-week shore leave from the Navy, where he was stationed on a tiny island off the coast of Alaska. He happened to be a fantastic piano player and dropped in at the club to play some music and have a good time.

It didn’t take long for that sailor to catch my mother’s eye. Or, should I say, her ear. She was really impressed with this piano player’s talent, and before long was sitting with him at the piano singing along to every song he knew.

When she found out he was full-blooded Armenian like she was, the deal was done. They fell madly in love, and after a whirlwind romance, the two eloped. When his 3-week shore leave was up, the piano player returned to his station in Alaska a married man.

A Wartime Bride

My mother married that sailor but had to live apart from him until his duty was done in Alaska. Then they did the awkward work of meeting each other’s families. Can you imagine what it was like for this traditional, church-choir-singing girl to explain to her family that she just married a sailor who blew into town on shore leave without a proper church wedding?

But it was wartime in a different era, and it was not uncommon for women to get married and wait for their new husbands to come home. After Alaska, the two of them moved to Washington DC, where my father finished his tour of duty at the Pentagon.

Their first child, my sister,  was born at the naval hospital in Bethesda.  When my dad was finally discharged from the Navy, they headed back to California where it was warm.

My dad was sick of the cold. He grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of the Green Bay Packers and their frozen tundra, Lambeau Field. Then the Navy shipped him off to a floating glacier called Adak, Alaska. After suffering through all that,  he was determined to live in the warm climate where he’d met my mother. Fortunately for me, they chose San Francisco.

My Mother’s Sacrifice

While my father went to college on the GI bill to become a studio musician, my mother put her musical career on hold. A year later my brother was born, then I showed up a couple of years after that.

Our mother sacrificed her career to care for us. She played the dutiful mother and housewife role, while my father pursued his musical career. Though she loved her husband and her family, it must have been tough to set her dream aside while he pursued his.

She had wanted to be an opera singer for most of her young life. But women back then didn’t have their own careers. They stayed home, raised the children so the men could have careers.

And though my father was a great musician, my mother may have been even better.

She probably thought she would have another chance at a singing career. Once we were all in school, she could go back to auditions and demo records.

But she never got that chance. Shortly after I was born, she began to get sick. She was in and out of the hospital for most of my early life. Had they found the cause early on, she might have had a chance. But two months shy of my 4th birthday, when she was just 36 years old, she died of breast cancer.

Her death certificate is on my bulletin board just above my monitor. It’s dated March 8th, 1962.

Celebrate International Women’s Day Today

Please give some thought to all the strong women who sacrificed so future generations could have more. The women who fought for the right to vote, to drive, to own a business, and to do the same kind of work that men have taken for granted for generations.

And while you’re at it,  please give a thought to my mother and the many women like her. I’m sad today because I grew up without her, and she never had a chance to pursue her dream.

But we should all celebrate this day. Because it’s our mother’s sacrifices that allows us all to pursue our dreams.