The October Sky – it can be stormy, or warm and welcoming. It behouves us to predict its ever-changing nature.
I confess, I just rewatched the movie October Sky which depicts four adolescent boys building rockets in the 60’s as they become successful in their bid to win scholarships to escape their previously predicted lives of coal miners. I found myself wiping tears from my eyes at several junctures….
In this movie, I make note especially of the role of the teacher (Laura Dern) in providing the inspiration these boys needed and the support they required in order to pursue their dream. She is dying in the movie (of cancer no less). Her enthusiasm and support of these students under her care was reminiscent to me of the many times I also tried to inspire my students. I can only hope that some of them will look back at my time with them and be grateful that I cared as much as I did.
So many things in my life came to the surface in this movie. The dynamics of a home where there is so much feeling yet none of it expressed, the silent relationships of father and sons, the loneliness and isolation of the mother, the routinization of the lives of the kids at the school, and the lack of imagination on the part of the administration there.
In the end, father and son finally communicate and the four rocket boys are successful in realizing their dream of getting out of “coaltown”, despite the lack of support from many.
The final rocket goes up and you see the faces of all of the stakeholders looking up in the sky as the rocket disappears in the distance: the dirty coal miners heading underground once more into the mine, the inspiring teacher dying in her hospital bed, the mother and brother happy for their family member who stuck to his guns despite their doubts, and the father who finally puts his hand on the shoulder of his son – at long last – proud of his kid’s ability to seek out his dream and demonstrate success.
Yes, I cried for many reasons: I know what it looks like to die. I know what it is to doubt the love of a son. I know what it is to be a teacher who gives it all to students every day hoping for a glimmer of inspiration in their eyes. I know what it is to hope for a future, wondering if there is one.
This movie inspires me to keep going no matter how confused I may be or how very sad. It tells me that what works for others may not work for me.
I am unique and I need to answer for myself.
The October Sky – unpredictable, changeable, hot, cold, windy, still – beautiful in its own special way – right now – that’s what my life feels like. Making sense out of it will be interesting to say the least.