Interstellar (2014): The Story of the Farmer Who ‘Made It’

“My father was a farmer”.

This is how a newly-released space adventure movie Interstellar begins. Not a typical start for a presumably another Hollywood science fiction blockbuster, is it?

Well, perhaps because the movie is rather a drama, not a sci-fi action. Directed by Chistopher Nolan, an accomplished director known for his intellectual and thought-provoking works, including hits like Inception and Memento, Interstellar offers a colourful mosaic of planetary challenges, interstellar travels, human choice and sacrifice, thrilling action, philosophical dialogues, dense physical theory and science, intellectual puzzle and love drama, humor, stunning visual effects and epic music. And all of these elements were put really nicely together to form a strong and decent movie that is absolutely worth watching.

I don’t want to talk much about the plot here which does not seem to be that original at first glance (although it gets like a roller coaster as the movie unfolds). According to the story a former NASA pilot Cooper, a father of two teenage kids, is set on a mission to find another planet for our mankind that faces extinction due to the dust bowl causing drastic shortages of crops and food on Earth. But what is really interesting is what drives the main character’s decisions.

A qualified engineer and a pilot, Cooper is forced to be a farmer, and so will be his children. Yet as a scientist he maintains his insatiable thirst for exploration:

We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.

And this is one the movie’s most important spots – the idea that we have a higher mission and need to strive for it no matter how life treats us. Not only a collective space exploration mission like shown in Interstellar, but also an individual mission or life calling for each of us.

Cooper chooses to go on his mission, no matter how hard the sacrifice of leaving the family behind is; no matter how scary the chances of not coming back may be. Indeed, it takes courage to pursue your dreams.

The second central thought of the movie, in my opinion, and which is also linked to the fist one, is that human beings have a stunning capacity for adapting to literally anything and performing well in extreme situations. Coopers’ response to the co-pilot’s “This is not possible.” is “No. It’s necessary.”

I strongly believe – and this is what the film’s director reveals too – that we all have hidden super powers. One of our goals on Earth is to try to utilize as much of that capacity as possible. And a way to do so is keep challenging ourselves, keep the inner fire burning:

We’ve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we’ve just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we’ve barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us.

Last but not least, one of the brightest contentions in Interstellar is:

Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.

The movie depicts a love line between Cooper and his female co-pilot Brand. Yet I believe the director’s message was deeper than that.

We are all connected, one way or another, and the Earth is our common home.  

Highways and Country Roads – Speed vs. Life

I like to compare life with road.

Both roads and our lives have ups and downs, straight lines and curves, hidden turns and surprising landscapes, new experiences and fellow passengers on the way.

Indeed, life is a highway.

Yet roads can be different. Some roads are first-class super fast motorways, others are more modest country roads.

While highways have a definite speed advantage, there’s not much you can see there. The best things happen on smaller country roads passing through hidden towns and valleys, the roads that connect people and destinies.

If you happen to travel by car or bicycle, or any another vehicle you drive yourself, take a moment and get off the motorway for the sake of a smaller local road. The longer – at first sight – route will bring many surprises that cannot be noticed at 70 mph on the highway.

After all, the shortest way is not always the fastest one.

Long Road

On The Road

“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going ’till we get there.’
‘Where we going, man?’
‘I don’t know but we gotta go.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Road is not just a physical line connecting point A with point B. Road is a state of mind, a metaphysical experience, a way of life. It does not mean you must be virtually driving or riding every singe day. What this means is that life itself may be perceived as a road – with ups and downs, straight lines and curves, hidden turns and surprising landscapes, new experiences and fellow passengers on the way.

Meditating from such perspective can be very powerful. Next time you’re driving or riding any vehicle, think that the road is your life, and you make your own path through your conscious choices. It’s important to control the vehicle yourself, so public transport won’t be good for this purpose.

As you keep on riding, realize not only the traffic lights and jams on the way, but also the excitement of following your route towards your destination. The road is yours, and you are the only one giving direction to your vehicle and, similarly, to your life.

“Life is a highway, and I wanna ride it all night long”

Just look up

In one of his most famous songs “Blowin’ In The Wind” Bob Dylan was asking: “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?” Living in Budapest, I realized that a great deal of the city’s beauty is  hidden on the roofs of its buildings. I say ‘hidden’ as normally one wouldn’t look up too much. This may happen for while after you find yourself in a new environment; yet once you get used to it, you wouldn’t really stare up in the sky looking for “undiscovered treasures”.

This is normally the case with me too. Quite often I’m deep in my thoughts and tend to look down. In such moments I don’t really notice what is going on around, let alone above my head. Yet when I do catch myself thinking too much, I pull my gaze up and always get struck by the beauty of the city’s architecture, even if on a regular route.

I guess this can teach a few things here. First, the beauty is always around us, we just need to be a bit more attentive and look for it. Second, living the present moment is as important as making plans for future. And third, problems can be solved better by taking a break first.

If you don’t have a teacher – travel

There is a saying: “If you don’t have a teacher – travel”. One could add: “If you have a teacher, travel anyway”. Traveling is indeed a great way to explore not only the world around, but first of all yourself. On the one hand, getting into an unfamiliar environment, you get an experience of “seeing is believing”. On the other hand, unknown, unusual and sometimes extreme situations help you experience your own ‘self’. Everyone can find something new on a journey, open to the world and absorb new impressions, make his or her own observations, learn his or her lessons.

Since I remember myself I have always adored cycling as a way of getting around and traveling. In the city a bicycle is a great alternative to the crowded public transport, as well as a save-up on tickets or gas, a way to keep fit and simply a source of pleasure from riding. Add flexibility, maneuverability, speed, lack of parking problem and ecology friendliness – and you basically get a perfect mode of transport. I have cycled over Hungary, in Slovakia and Austria, through ex-Yugoslavia, across the Minnesota state in US, not to mention numerous towns and villages in the native Ukraine… And each time the journey was full of fresh impressions, meetings with interesting people, delight with the beauties of nature and an enormous pleasure from the Road.

Hitchhiking became another revelation. Long before my first hitchhiker’s journey I read and heard lots of stories about this non-standard way of traveling. And when the circumstances were finally favorable (including vacation and good weather), I made up my mind and headed from Budapest to Belgium. Withing three and a half days I crossed Hungary, Austria, Germany and Belgium in more than thirty vehicles, got to know unforgettable and bright people, and got another portion of drive and pure satisfaction. Hitchhiking brought an understanding that:

– there are much more exciting and joyful ways to explore the world that through the window of a hotel room or airplane cabin
– money is not always a must for a wonderful vacation full of adventures
– hitchhiking gives you a touch of a a real non-touristic life, life from the inside, connecting you with the drivers full of enriching and instructive stories
– the world is open to those who are open to the world
– the Earth is out common home, and the people in it are all brothers

Every time there is a mix of contradictory feelings when you’re in for a new journey. On the one hand there is an inside tickle from the unknown and anticipation of pleasure from the road. On the other hand – doubts and idleness to venture out for the unfamiliar new. Perhaps paradoxes and contradictions are part of human nature. Strength comes hand in hand with weakness, courage with fear, joy with sadness… However, once could agree that the best strategy to follow one’s Way is to run away from safety against all fears and hesitations. After all, this is exactly the difference between a coward and a brave one: both have fear, but the former surrenders, while the latter moves on.

There are countless ways to travel for sure. It is no that important how you travel. It is not even important where you are going. The main thing is moving itself, active exploration, quest, discovering something new both outside and inside. As they say, it is not the destination but the journey that counts.

Nice traveling to everyone!

I’m Not an Idiot – I’m a Dreamer!

A few days ago I watched a beautiful movie called “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. The main idea is very deep. It’s about a tragedy of human life when everything goes wrong, and we retreat to our comfort zone (even if it’s only in our heads), from where we are so afraid to get out and back into the world. But this is also a movie about dreamers.

Walter Mitty is a man of great potential, brave heart and talent. He is simply scared to give himself a chance to put his great ideas into life, and drowns in his bright yet crazy fantasies. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a film about the first and most important step, about an event that pushes us to overcome ourselves and perform heroic deeds.

The-Secret-Life-Walter-Mitty-03-1

I think many can draw a parallel between Walter Mitty’s life and his or her own.

If every second of your life is filled with sense and action, this film and post are not for you. Rather, it addresses those who think their lives lack brightness and who are stuck in everyday routine and chores. Walter Mitty sets a vivid example of how to turn “from a caterpillar into a butterfly”.

Action is indispensable. Only action brings true knowledge and moves you towards your goals and dreams. However, the very first step is to have a Dream.

They say one can tell a lot about a person by observing his friends. Others say you can understand someone by looking into the books he or she reads. Likewise you would learn a great deal about someone if you could know his dreams.

Take a few seconds to to address a simple question:

What is my biggest dream? Or, what are my biggest dreams?

If you can answer these instantly, congratulations! You have a direction, at least in your mind, where you want to go. A true Dream has noting to do with day-dreaming. Day-dreaming is an idle wasting of time that could be used for action. A real dream is like a vision where you want to stand after taking the road.

I believe once we know what ours dreams are, with hard-work, perseverance, discipline and patience, we are doomed to reach our destinations. And even if not, the lessons learned on the way will be an invaluable experience. After all, everything happens for the best.

So what if there is no answer to the question above? Then start dreaming! Who said a “small person” can’t have big dreams in his heart? Even an average office employee, not only a Superman, wants to perform sometimes maybe an insane yet heroic deed, believe in his or her strength and courage. Walter Mitty proves that is absolutely possible.