The majestic power of people’s passion.
That’s what the film “October Sky” fleshes out so gloriously. We hadn’t watched the movie in years, but when we viewed it again recently we caught the contagious glow from the amazing, inspiring, and true tale.
Homer Hickam is a high school student living in a coal mining town in West Virginia in 1957, a town in which few escape the hard, unhealthy life of the mine. The handful fortunate enough to go away to college usually do so on football scholarships.
Captivated by witnessing the Sputnik (the first artificial, Soviet satellite put in orbit) cruise across the evening sky, Homer is so inspired he vows to build a rocket. No matter that he lacks the supplies, equipment, money, knowledge of rocketry, math skills, support of his father, and teenaged contemporaries. His soul is on fire.
Homer enlists his 3 friends and galvanizes them with his passionate vision on a journey far beyond their wildest imaginings. Homer encounters countless, daunting obstacles and setbacks. Yet he doesn’t relent: his passion won’t let him.
My modest 🙂 science and math abilities are about as far as you can get from a rocketry aficionado’s. But you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to relish the juice of this tale. For this is a tale about passion, something we can all understand. And it is about the enormous sea of possibility and meaning that we avail ourselves of when we follow that passion.
As I watched the characters’ faces of deepest concentration, tenacity, and utmost exhilaration, my own soul echoed, soaring. That’s how I often feel when dancing, writing, cooking, bodysurfing. Electric!
It is what I wrote about in my last post (“Passion: Jet Pack”), about flow or “optimal experience” in the words of author and guru, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “….[T]he best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile….”
So often we delay pursuing our heart’s calling to do “more important” things or procrastinate out of fear and guilt. Yet, pursuing our passion is good for us! And for the universe!
As Csikszentmihalyi’s exhaustive research demonstrates, cultivating those moments of optimal experience allows us to “….learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of our concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows…that allows us to…. make significant contributions to humankind.” (emphasis added)
The form doesn’t matter–your jam could be needlepoint or playing the saxophone or skydiving or writing a blog :). The key is to follow the passion to the greatest extent we can, growing our selves and showering positive juju on those around us and into the Universe. A healthy kind of contagious.
Who knows whom we will inspire with our own inimitable journey of the self? We will never know until we GO! FOR! IT!