I must say, Christopher Nolan's new film Interstellar could not have come at a better time in my life. I try to do a lot of self-discovery, allow time for introspection, praying, reading, writing and counseling to get a grasp of the world around me and my place in it, but the day to day life is challenging and consuming. Stress would be an understatement. So challenging and stressful, in fact, given the nature of the sacrifices I've made to pursue my dreams and the risks I've taken to follow this lonely, dark path as a Black founder/CEO in tech (of which there are maybe a dozen of us in the country whom have raised substantial money from investors) that I have found myself looking for something bigger to put myself and my self-inflicted ideas of stress and discomfort back in its rightful place [after all, I am just one man with lowly ambition in the grand scheme of things (I'm not curing AIDS or cancer), somewhat moderate to advanced skills (but, again, I'm not curing AIDS or cancer), and decent philosophical makeup (I read books, if that counts).
It's not that Interstellar is the greatest movie of all time or that it answers some profound life questions, but it's a big enough film to take me away from my day to day even if just for a few hours.
Last night, for the second time this week (the first in IMAX), I watched Interstellar (this time at Alamo on South Lamar so I could see it in 35mm film). There were a lot of subtle things I realized I'd missed the first time simply because the movie has so many concepts, so many moments where you're so consumed by the size of it all that you miss the granularity. Anyway, I highly recommend it. Check out the Peter Travers / Rolling Stone review if you need another (more credible) take, although you will get some spoiler alerts in doing so. Tread carefully.
As far as the timing is concerned, I think it's no coincidence that I just picked up National Book Award finalist Edward O. Wilson's book "The Meaning of Human Existence" and have really enjoyed it. My favorite passage thus far is the following:
"An estimated hundred billion star systems make up the Milky Way galaxy, and astronomers believe that all are orbited by an average of at least one planet. A small but still substantial fraction are likely to harbor life-forms - even if the organisms are only microbes living under extremely hostile conditions.
The exoplanets (planets in other star systems) of the galaxy form a continuum...
Astronomers, being normal humans as well as scientists, are as awed as the rest of us by their discoveries. The discoveries affirm that Earth is not the center of the Universe - we've known that since Copernicus and Galileo - but just how far from the center has been hard to imagine. The tiny blue speck we call home is proportionately no more than that, a mote of stardust near the edge of our galaxy among a hundred billion or more galaxies in the universe. It occupies just one position in a continuum of planets, moons, and other planetlike heavenly bodies that we have just begun to understand. It would be becoming of us to speak modestly of our status in the cosmos."
I like this passage because, as someone who believes in a higher power, I love Wilson's acknowledgment that these are in fact "heavenly bodies" and we have yet to understand but a very small piece of our place in this world. As we ascend (if you can call it that), through discovery, through experimentation, through creativity, through collaboration of science and the arts, through risk and sacrifice (as Interstellar touches on), I realize that my role in the universe is extremely, infinitesimally small. But small doesn't mean inconsequential. In fact, small - like those tiny microbes likely living on exoplanets - could mean a lot in the grand scheme of things.