The Accidental Texan: What Are You Doing Here?

Fledgling movie star? Check.

Struggling local business owner? Check.

Strained parent-child relationship? Check.

A delightfully heartfelt movie about the fledgling movie star acting his way through a scenario to help the struggling business owner while navigating a strained relationship with his father? Also check.

After blowing his first big gig, actor Erwin Vandeveer (Rudy Pankow) finds himself stranded in small-town Texas where he stumbles into the oil-drilling world of Merle (Thomas Hayden Church). Merle is in a bind, with only thirty days to make good on a loan that bankers Don Brock (Mark Nutter) and Chad Ronson (Jake Ryan) are eager to collect on. Merle’s proposal to Erwin? Act as his new landman by combining his Harvard education with his acting skills, help him land a new lease, strike oil, and pay the bank. Simple, right? So with the encouragement of café manager Faye (Carrie-Anne Moss), Erwin and Merle embark on this mission to save not just Merle’s business, but his family’s legacy.

The family-element is obvious throughout this film. Merle is mourning the loss of his son, Erwin and his father have long battled over Erwin’s career choice. As Erwin and Merle grow closer, there are glimpses of healing and acceptance across their relationships, even in loss.

But what really struck me was the undercurrent of the longing for purpose. What exactly was Erwin thinking when he said yes to this acting scheme? Was he simply bored waiting for his car to get fixed? Was it the challenge of a new role? Was it because deep down he wanted to work on an oil rig?

Or was it because throughout his life – throughout all of our lives – the drive to find purpose and answer the question, “what am I doing here” compelled him to go in the first place. And then compelled him to stay in this small Texas town.

It’s a universal question, “what am I doing here?” From childhood on we are encouraged to find our career, our calling, our purpose – whatever you want to call it. My daughter is in high school and every day she worries about her next step, whether it is as simple as the next homework assignment or as overwhelming as what she is supposed to do with her life.

Is there an answer I can give her? Sure, I have hopes for her, much like Erwin’s father and Merle had for their sons. But, at the same time, I know it’s something she must figure out as she lives her life. Instead of boxing her in, guiding her down the road that will take her where I want to her to go, I have accepted that my job is to walk one step behind her, encouraging her while also whispering helpful directions now and then as the road bends and forks, speeds up and slows down. And in doing so, I have a new answer to this question for myself. “What am I doing here?” My answer is simple – I am being here. Whether it is a big city or a small town, whether old or young, to just be present and open and open to the relationships in my life is the answer.

What are YOU doing here?

The Accidental Texan is available on VOD now.

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