One of my all-time favorite, feel-good, inspirational movies is ‘Gattaca’, a sci-fi film about a futuristic world where babies are conceived through eugenics, i.e. genetic manipulation to ensure they are ailment-free and receive only the best hereditary traits from their parents. Sort of like a bartender mixing up the perfect cocktail.
Unfortunately Vincent (Ethan Hawke) is conceived naturally and winds up facing genetic discrimination and termed an ‘in-valid’. He mops floors at the Gattaca Aerospace Centre and watches rockets take off everyday, carrying his dream along with them into the dark skies, the dream to perhaps one day travel into space, beyond this world that has been nothing but unfair to him. He has a brother Anton, who is a product of eugenics- healthy, strong and wonderfully arrogant with the knowledge that he is superior to his older brother.
Seems I’m rambling too much about the plot so let me start getting to my point.
So there’s this game that Vincent plays with his brother Anton called ‘Chicken’ where they keep swimming out to the sea and whoever decides to turn back first, loses. Vincent always loses. Except for one day, when he just keeps going on and on. Anton comes close to drowning and Vincent saves him.
Years later, when the stakes are higher, they play again. We get to see a determined Vincent plunge his arms through the dark blue waters.
An exhausted Anton trailing behind finally asks him, “ Vincent! How are you doing this Vincent? How have you done any of this? We have to go back.”
Vincent replies, “ You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it Anton. I never saved anything for the swim back.”
Isn’t that just incredible? I’ve watched this movie at least ten times and each time this damn scene hits me so hard. Imagine the courage it takes, to go all in, not knowing if you’ll have the strength to make it back. Imagine the potential in each of us, lurking behind caution and insurance and other safety nets we weave to stay secure. Imagine, imagine, imagine!
I guess we’re all swimming in this ocean. At our own pace, some wearing floats, some diving deep, some staying by the shore, some chasing dolphins. In the end it doesn’t matter how far we go, but that we went a little further than yesterday, and that we choose to never look back.