“The Astronaut Farmer” and Creativity

Movie inspires viewers to keep dreaming!

Last week, we watched The Astronaut Farmer. The movie made me think about dreams and creativity.

A few years ago, I read John Maxwell’s Thinking for a Change, which includes a sad survey on the state of our creativity. The survey reveals that as we age, we become less creative. According to the survey, 2% of men/women in their 40s were found to be highly creative. As they continued their study, they also found that 2% of 35-year-olds were highly creative. This proved to be true all the down until they reached 7-year-olds. 10% of them were determined to be highly creative. However, as researchers continued, they discovered that 90% of 5-year-olds were highly creative!

These results cause me to wonder what happens between ages 5 and 7 that causes us to lose our creativity. Maybe Dr. Suess was right, “Adults are obsolete children.” 🙂

The Astronaut Farmer is about a middle-aged man’s dream to go into space. In the process of building a rocket in his barn, he encounters a lot of skepticism and ridicule from small minded people who don’t understand his dream. Charley Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton), when asked by reporter why he was building a rocket and planning to launch said, “It’s always been my dream.”

The movie takes place in a small town. At one point, Farmer’s friend, Arnie, said:

I’m your friend first and a banker second, all right? Now, folks around here, they think you’re crazy. I happen to think you’re a genius. You got bad credit, but you got great character, and uh, that rocket ship of yours is amazing. But as a friend, I have to look you in the eye and say that I think it’s time you give it a rest.

Later, after serving Farmer a 30-day notice of foreclosure on Farmer’s property, Arnie says:

You got 30 days, so you gotta open your eyes. Look at this as a wake-up call, because the dream is over. It’s gotta stop now, before you lose everything.

Because Farmer throws a brick through the banker’s window, he must see another childhood friend, Nurse Goode, for a psychiatric evaluation. She tells him, “The rocket is not going to bring you a happy childhood. We all just have to grow up and just take responsibility.”

These statements remind me of what I heard Ed Young Jr. say at a seminar in early 2006: “Little people with little vision will go after awesome people with awesome vision.”

My favorite quote in the movie comes at the mid-way point. Farmer, standing before the FAA committee to determine whether or not he would be permitted to launch his rocket, said:

You see, when I was a kid, they use to tell me I could be anything I wanted to be. No matter what. And maybe I am insane, I don’t know, but I still believe that. I believe it with all my heart. Somewhere along the line we stopped believing we could do anything. And if we don’t have our dreams, we have nothing.

We must guard our dreams. Bobb Biehl says, “Dreams are like soap bubbles floating close to jagged rocks on a windy day.” Isn’t that a great picture of the fragility of dreams? Guard your dreams. Don’t let anyone cause you to doubt God’s ability to accomplish great things through you!

Creativity is something we’re thinking about as we prepare to be parents. Part of the key, it seems, is simply not killing creativity. Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

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