wonka ticket

So. One of my favorite people mentioned watching Willy Wonka (the original) yesterday. What a great quirky sometimes dark but chock full of chocolate and wise advice movie.  I thought I would dedicate today to Willy Wonka wisdom.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is about a poor boy named Charlie. His life is horrible. But one day, he hears the news that Willy Wonka is sending out five golden tickets and then letting the winners go into his factory (which no one gets to ever visit). The first four winners are Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teevee (all metaphors for some human extreme or flaw). Charlie then wins the fifth golden ticket by luck.

If you are a chocolate lover you become immersed in the movie’s warm chocolate blanket (the chocolate room is almost like going to the Hershey’s factory and watching the river of chocolate… but even better) but in the fanciful sometimes dark story there are messages to all of us. Mostly adults (although it is a children’s movie).

Anyway. Some thoughts.

  1. 1. speechless

“For some moments in life, there are no words.”

Willy Wonka

Wow. No words?

I do love finding the right words at the right time. It is a really special feeling, almost delight, to say something and you know a light bulb went on or the listener smiles or you can possibly bring a tear of happiness alive.  Those are special moments.


I think I would trade them all for the moments where words fail me. Not the moments I couldn’t think of the right thing to say … but rather the moments that render you speechless.

Some moments in life make you speechless.

I could make a list of those types of moments but Wonka simply states the one that stops us all:

“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

That random act of kindness you receive, or see, in the grayest moments in life.

A word.

A hug.

A note.

A … well … whatever.

A moment that renders you speechless. A good deed that shines so bright it breaks through the darkest of days.

We should all seek to make someone speechless on occasion.

And, you know, just because I talk about business a lot. This is particularly true in the work place.

So often we are critical and so fearful of failure we are always talking about “so what did we learn from this mistake.” I am not suggesting we shouldn’t do that. And I am not suggesting we actually ‘seek’ moments to make someone speechless. For it is truly the randomness that often renders someone speechless. So how do you do that?

Spur of the moment unplanned comment or deed.

Within the unexpected I tend to believe you can expect gratitude in the form of speechless.

wonka2. paradise gained

“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.”

Willy Wonka

Sure. Willy Wonka is a cynical man and certainly a misanthrope (I would imagine you would almost have to be after being a hermit in your own magical factory for decades).

But he wants to believe that there is still some good to be found in a “weary world.”

He wants to people to understand that even in a weary world if you take a moment you can find the glimpses of paradise. He is actually suggesting Hope without saying it. Hope & faith.

And sometimes that means making choices (and all that comes with choices).

He shows us in the movie that life is about risk and return and following rules and breaking rules and choices.

And maybe he also shows us that in a weary world it is easy for an adult to forget lessons learned through their eyes as a child.

How about the childlike logical choice from the adult Mr. Turkentine?

“I’ve just decided to switch our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now take place on Monday before we’ve learned it. But since today is Tuesday, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.”


And Wonka. `A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.’

Life and choices are always all about perspective. The moment you lose perspective you have lost dimension in your life. Therefore life becomes “flat.”

It’s all about having trying to have some fun in life and being hopeful against all odds.

There are times when you have to let things go for a while and just act like a kid. Eat candy, run around and play, steal fizzy lifting drinks and bump into the ceiling that now has to be washed and sterilized, it doesn’t matter as long as no one’s looking.

It is obvious that the movie is trying to say that it’s okay to break the rules every once in a while.

So. In the end this movie is for adults hidden in the voice of children.

It champions innocence, honesty and childhood dreams. As Wonka says “I couldn’t leave it to an adult, they would change things”. His factory is a place where anything can (and does) happen.

Frankly. It shouldn’t be that way.

Just the thought that “I couldn’t leave it to an adult” should disturb us.


Maybe it should just be a good reminder

For once in one of my posts I am going to end where I began.

Paradise is everywhere around you if you look for it.

Even in a child’s worst day there is a moment of joy or amazement or ‘something’ that makes their day have at least a glimpse of sunshine.

Why shouldn’t adults have the same?

Oh. One last thought. Instead of ‘be careful what you wish for’ think about this:

Willy Wonka: “don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.”

Charlie Bucket: “What happened?”

Willy Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”

wonka chocolate room 23. where danger can look divine

“Inside this room, all of my dreams become realities, and some of my realities become dreams.”

Willy Wonka

So. Nowhere else in the movie does Wonka simply state life better than this. The ever interchange between dreaming and reality.

While the first part of the story is a good satire on how adults sometimes make trivial things so important and how the media gets carried way with stupid issues (and I could do an entire post on that) the second half of the story is intriguing because Willy Wonka – a no nonsense candy maker who doesn’t put up with the brats – teaches us about “decision making” or how choices have varying degrees of risk.

How you have to risk something to achieve a dream and, yet, even with taking that risk your reality reverts back to simply being a dream.

This is parallel advice to adults and children.

Childhood is full of booby traps and the allure of the forbidden where danger often looks divine.

Willy Wonka is about giving in and seeing the horrors and delights.

And seeing the repercussions and traps often found on the other side of the choice.

The movie shows us adults that freedom of choice and danger are entwined (and it’s more impactful because we dislike associating this with children).

But the entire second half of the movie is a reflection of an eternal truth – for every action, there is a consequence.

Eat too much? You’ll get fat.

Drink too much? Alcoholism looms.

Over indulge your children, they will torment you,

Over indulge your children, they will torture the rest of the world for the rest of their lives.

Willy Wonka is a truly eccentric and fascinating man but he hasn’t lost sight of choices and pitfalls and throughout this glimpse into his life (which as a recluse he is taking a risk) we see hope in what it takes to make the ‘best choice you can.’

Certainly within his world of delight and humor and unimaginable joy there is a grim note and admonition. He puts adults on pedestals to remind them of responsibility for all to see. He portrays adults as clowns and boorish and sometimes poor examples of how to live life (pretty much showing us at our worst with regard to choice making).

Certainly the movie reflects how our choices as adults beget a generation being raised as a race of over indulged brats who often deserve to be banished into some dark fate after their own “poor choices” (in the movie they simply disappear).

(Of course, after disappearing Wonka says they’ll all be returned back to their “normal rotten selves.”)

And even Charlie, our hero child, is left standing at the conclusion of the quest not without sin.

And despairingly as we watch we note Wonka is almost undone with disappointment at the poor examples of a generation in which he had placed his hopes (as we adults all do). And with a little ache in our souls we also get to see hope for the future (as we adults all want to do).

childrens talent to endureLife is tricky.

Danger can often look divine.

And some choices that look easy are complicated.

And dreams can become realities and your realities can slip back into but a dream.

But. In the end. I admit. The final scene made me wish I had had children.

There are dangers and risk tangled in every thread of life and choices we make.

If hope could be encapsulated within anyone’s life it has to be in a child.

They represent the hope to right our wrongs (intentional or unintentional wrongs).

They represent the hope to fulfill the dreams we have that don’t become reality.

There you go. Willy Wonka wisdom.

I am glad my friend (a great parent) reminded me about this movie.

Willy Wonka should remind us of not only the responsibilities of being a parent and an adult but also the fact that being an adult shouldn’t mean we should leave all aspects of childhood behind.

Because despite burdened with choices and responsibilities I tend to believe we will end up making better choices if we have some perspective … the perspective of childhood dreams yet to become realities.

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Written by Bruce