Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Astronaut Farmer - Go After Your Dreams

Earlier this week my family and I went to an outdoor movie screening at Lake Las Vegas Resort. During the summer months they run a series called Movies Al Fresco. If you live in the area and want to go, use this link to check schedules. The sunset over the backdrop of the lake was breathtaking. The grass was cool and soft after a hot, dry day and it's free.

We relaxed on our blanket, bit into drippy, steaming pizza and watched a gem of a movie, The Astronaut Farmer. The projectionist welcomed the crowd and proceeded to tell us that The Astronaut Farmer was a good family movie but a bit unrealistic. After all, there are all sorts of problems that go along with building a rocket in your barn.

I didn't care. Ten minutes into the movie I was a believer and so were my boys, who reclined in front of me staring at the screen. Charles Farmer washed out of the space program but he hadn't lost the burning desire to go into space. He uses his skills and knowledge as an aerospace engineer to make his dream a reality. If NASA won't sent him into orbit then, by God, he'll do it himself.

What captured my imagination was this man's ability to believe in himself and the possibility that anything can be accomplished. It's what we are supposed to believe as Americans. The ironic (and unfortunately realistic) part of this movie was the ridicule he recieved from his friends and the townspeople. Even his own government jumped on the bandwagon to stop him. Who did he think he was trying to go into space without them? How dare he circumvent their authority over the skys. So much for the American dream. "You're just crazy," the town nurse told him.

Against the odds, Charlie infused his family with his passion. At the dinner table they played a game. "I'm going to the moon and I'm taking a pillow," his little girl says.

"Okay, you can go to the moon," her father responds.

His teenage son, Shepard, is in charge of mission control. His father raised him to believe in his problem solving abilities. He's helped his father build the rocket. It's going to work. The family thrives on faith in each other.

I worry about what happens in American homes these days. Do we encourage our children to be all that they can be? Do we give them the help they need to experiment and learn, even when what they strive for sounds far fetched? In my house I have children who dream big and I have to constantly remind myself that it's okay to encourage them along their individual paths. So far, we have a future president of the USA, a chef, a professional football player and a music producer in the works. And who am I to tell them that maybe they should think about careers in retail?

What The Astronaut Farmer did for me was to remind me that the best way to show my children how to rope in their big dreams is to pursue my own. No matter what movie critics thought of the movie it had a positive affect on this writer, best selling author wanna be.

Like Charles Farmer, don't be afraid to shoot for the moon.

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