My girls and I finished up the school year studying astronomy for science. The unit ended with the history of space travel. History being a smidge ironic since its only been in the last 40 years that the Americans have studied space flight. We read about the great ‘space race’ that began after the Russians launched “Sputnik; the first artificial satellite. The US got lapped a second time in this race by “Sputnik 2” before they found their own stride with “Juno 1.” All of this legitimate worldly peer pressure was what birthed NASA according to our book.
As we were reading about this, I was reminded of one of my favorite movies…October Sky. It is based on the true story of Homer Hickam and the Rocket Boys, who went on to win the National Science Fair in 1957. That certainly doesn’t sound movie worthy except that these high school boys came from a small coal mining town in Coalwood, W.Va that rarely boasted of college bound students. *note to self though the movie was great…the book is way better.*
I thought that this would be a great movie to share with my girls who are getting older and have moved a little beyond Disney and Pixar in their viewing ability, but not so much in their preferences. *note to self….preview a movie you haven’t seen in years before showing it to your children.* So, last night we popped our corn and had a movie night.
Well, lets just say that there was way more profanity and adult themes(child abuse/alcoholism) than I remembered. oh, and I learned that my youngest has inherited my gene of being claustrophobic as she began having ticks and shakes every time someone got on the elevator shaft that went down into the mine. go figure.
Though lost on the young and spatially challenged, there are parts of this movie that touch me deeply. Times when my chest literally has palpitations. I wasn’t sure of the meaning of that word, so I looked it up. Yup, its spot on. “To quiver; flutter. To beat more quickly than normal; THROB(emphasis…webster’s) Used of the heart(emphasis…mine).
It is an amazing picture of hope and knowing who you are. or when you forget who you are….holding on tightly to who you really want to be. Homer Hickam, in the movie, is misunderstood in his family and demeaned in his father’s eyes as he sets out to try to build a rocket and enter it into the state science fair. But, really what causes the ‘throbbing’ is when i think…what if he hadn’t tried? what if he hadn’t been afraid to fail….ALOT? what if he believed what others thought his life should/would be?(read: only a high school diploma, a life in the coal mine, black lung disease or some other horrible end) instead of what he knew in his heart he wanted to be.
What I love about this story is that he doesn’t get the confirmation that he will in fact one day win the national science fair, get a scholarship to go to college, and go on to work at NASA training astronauts for space travel before he begins trying to build rockets in his basement. He just tries to build rockets in his basement.
When I think of all of the things I want to do with my life, I only think of the end result. I want to hold a book I wrote one day and play a beautiful piece of music in church on the violin, viola, and cello(not at the same time). The problem is it’s really hard to sit down and write or practice scales daily. It’s really hard to fail at it in front of people. And its even harder when I hear the voices that say….I’m way too old or inadequate to be trying to do either.
so, what do I do in those moments?…well apparently, I watch a kid inappropriate movie with my children and am surprised that my heart still quakes and the tears still fall because I know I have a lot of lost years I want to make up for by truly living and being Used of the heart.(emphasis:mine.)