After my wife took my daughter to see Tomorrowland, she returned to tell me she couldn’t wait until the movie was available at home so we could watch it together.
This is one of the things I love most about my wife. Whatever amazing things she experiences, be it food, or a movie or a sunset, she wants to share them with me. If I could give my children one piece of advice about their future spouse, it is to choose the person with whom you always want to share what brings you joy.
But, I digress. After finally sitting down to watch the film, I completely understand why she was so enthusiastic about watching it with me. Put simply, Tomorrowland should be required viewing for every member of the human race.
You see, I’m old enough to remember when we lived in a world that was still ripe with possibilities. When the sight of a rocket ship blasting off into space drew us around the television set. When John F. Kennedy set a goal of reaching the moon before the sixties drew to a close and then thousands of brilliant men and women poured their time, money and brainpower into making it happen. When optimism was cool and the word “snark” meant an imaginary animal instead of a point of view.
Once, we worked together to reach the stars, not for the ROI, but for the simple fact that we could.
Now? Well, our roads and bridges are crumbling around us while we fight over nickels. Never mind flying cars, we’ll be better off with floating ones as we watch our world disintegrate beneath our feet. And NASA? They’re busy sending other people’s rockets into space.
Our politicians now ask “why,” as in “why is it our problem” and “why should we pay for that” and “why should we care?”
But my children don’t want to be accountants or politicians when they grow up (not that there’s anything wrong with that). They want to be superheroes. Astronauts. They want to rescue puppies and build armored suits and blast off into space.
And my answer when they tell me that? I nod my head tell them that’s cool. Then I walk into another room and shake my head, thinking how cute it is to harbor such ambitions.
Tomorrowland, however, was like a mallet upside my head. As I watched, I suddenly understood that I’ve become exactly the kind of person I criticize. I’ve become practical. Pragmatic. Realistic. The dreamer has been replaced by a “grown up” who can’t seem to endorse a child’s dream without worrying about the costs first.
In the film, a robot named Athena utters the words “Dreamers need to stick together.” Leave it to the machine to remind me how to be human, eh?
So, instead of looking at the world and shaking my head, I realize I need to seek out the company of fellow dreamers. People like Elon Musk, following in the footsteps of Tesla, Verne, Edison and Eiffel. People like Brad Bird, carrying on in the tradition of Walt Disney and showing us what could be if we just worked together to make things better. People like my children, who believe nothing is impossible.
And from now on, I resolve to stop asking “why” and stop listening to those who ask it.
Instead, I resolve to ask “why not?”
Send people to Mars? Power our homes with the sun, wind and water? Raise a new generation of children to believe they can build armored suits, save puppies and fly to the stars?
Sure. Why the hell not? After all, dreamers need to stick together.
Who’s with me?