Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

with George Clooney

Viewed February 16, 2002

I expected a movie based on the Greek classic "The Odyssey" by Homer to be kind of stuffy and stilted. However, my expectations were dashed (in a good kind of way). This movie was completely unexpected, and I was glad for the surprise. George Clooney was a delight as a very-intelligent, down-and-out escaped convict. Since it was such a different kind of movie, though, it was a little difficult to arrive at personal-growth questions for our discussion. Fortunately, the group was up to the challenge, and we came up with a bunch of good questions that triggered some satisfyingly-deep conversation.

We started talking about Question 3, especially since the Odyssey itself refers to a far-flung adventure with the goal of returning home. We talked about how it feels like "home" when we finally establish a real connection with others, especially when we've been in a situation (like a divorce!) where everybody has been acting, thinking and believing differently than we do. It's such a relief to return "home" at times like that.

That led us to talk about our friends, and how much they've helped us feel at home (or not). Several people said that they've needed to "fire" their friends because they weren't receiving as much back in the relationship as they were giving (Question 8), which has left them in a friendship vacuum that they're now needing to fill.

And that led neatly into Questions 2 and 7, which seem related. Several participants talked about how they've noticed family members remaining in a "just scraping by" attitude for years, though in one instance the family members were in a great deal of distress over their lack of abundance, whereas in the other instance they seemed quite content. Someone commented that the attitude of just scraping by can be based on the belief that we have no options (Question 2). When we believe we have no options we stop putting energy into maintaining our lifestyle and existence, and instead we assume we have no control over our lives and therefore don't try to change them for the better.

One participant said she used to feel like she had no options when someone treated her poorly, and that all she could do was get angry at them. But recently she realized that other people couldn't determine her moods if she didn't let them; no matter what they did, she didn't need to allow them to trigger a bad mood. So now she's feeling happier, more empowered and more in charge of her feelings.

Here are the questions:


  1. To what extent have things turned out for the best despite my fears?
  2. When I believe I have no options, how do I find my way?
  3. What obstacles have I overcome in the odyssey of my life?
  4. How do I get out of tight spots?
  5. How has manipulation and trickery affected my life?
  6. How have I managed to stay sane (or have I?), coming from my background?
  7. How have I been affected by "just scraping by"?
  8. Who do I surround myself with and what kind of contribution do I get from them?
  9. What do I use music for?