Watching the Carl Sagan-inspired SF movie, Contact, recently (I’m on my fifth viewing in two years!), reminded me of how important role models and their words and actions can be.
In the movie, Jodie Foster’s character, Dr. Ellie Arroway, has her childhood fascination with Astronomy and amateur ham radio reinforced by the kindness, patience and encouragement of her father.
(Ellie’s mother died from complications during childbirth.)
Sometimes I like to think that Dr. Sagan wrote the novel to not only challenge future generations of scientists, who he knew would be grappling with funding problems and all the professional frustrations that can arise when working in unpopular fields. But that he also had the non-scientists in mind too; in fact, anyone with a goal or dream worth pursuing.
Although her father’s role in the movie ends early with his untimely death, his influence echoes through Ellie’s adult years and the script artfully illustrates various thought memes at key turning and decision points in the unfolding drama.
My favorite line of dialogue is in the form of wise words from her father, spoken whenever Ellie’s youthful enthusiasm and curiosity about topics of interest innocently overlook the time and effort often required before useful results are seen:
Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.