"Stuff in the basement" is a metaphor that Rocky uses, in the final Rocky Balboa movie, to describe the emotions and longings that sit buried in his gut, awaiting release and expression. It is also a reflection of the losses and changes life has brought his way.
Now that I've seen this movie with my husband, I find this phrase, "stuff in the basement," stuck in my brain. Rocky's "stuff" is intertwined with who he is, not unlike the stuff that sits in an actual physical basement. Just two days ago, my 80 yr. old father sat in his basement, going through boxes to determine what to pitch, what must be saved. In just a few weeks, my parents move from the family home into a condo. So many memories to sort through and let go of in this latest phase of change.
My sister relayed in a phone conversation that Dad (an eternal pack rat) found a letter from the admissions office at Notre Dame, dated back in the 1940's. Notre Dame University agreed to admit my father if he signed up for 4 years with the Naval Reserve. He declined, went into the army, and attended Ohio State. (Thank God . . . chances are my parents wouldn't have hooked up, producing me!).
Allow me to segue back to the movie. In this final Rocky movie, we find Rocky widowed, long retired from boxing, working in his restaurant, visiting past haunts, and longing for a close relationship with his grown son. Guess that describes middle age in a nutshell.
Rocky gets the itch to box again, in small, local events. Promoters, however, approach Rocky to box in an exhibition with the current heavyweight champion in efforts to boost the popularity of the latter, whose own fans boo him. Rocky has a lot to think about, needless to say. Without a doubt, he knows he will face tremendous physical pain if he agrees.
When Rocky's family tells him he's crazy, he tells them: "What's crazy about standing toe to toe and saying I am?" (Do we ever outgrow that need?)
In the end, Rocky uses the "stuff in the basement" to fuel his last boxing stand. And who is Rocky? He is courage. He is heart. He is Spirit in Gear.
My husband and I were a young married couple when we saw the first Rocky in 1976. I loved this inspiring underdog story. I cried during it. Rocky's theme music rang in my ears. The four sequels were easily forgettable. But Rocky VI brings it all back home. Rocky makes us care. And how fitting that Rocky and I find ourselves in middle age together. Wisdom and poignancy permeate the film.
Today is the first day of a spanking new year. It calls to us to let go of the old that no longer serves us, and to embrace the new. Now I ponder, what stuff do I have in my basement that cries out for expression? What stuff in my basement do I need to rid myself of once and for all? And where in my life do I need/want to say I am?
Happy New Year to Us All!