My wife (Jess) and I were both dead tired from yesterday—friends had come over to our house and cooked a Vietnamese meal the night before and we fell asleep around just before midnight, a little over two hours past our bedtime—and we had decided to spend the Friday night staying in doors, eating leftover, vegan soup and streaming a movie.
Whenever we plop ourselves down in front of the TV, a “smart” LED television, we spend what feels like an eternity searching for the perfect movie that matches our mood, loading Netflix and scrolling up and down through the vast collection of their originals, switching to Amazon Prime, watching trailer after trailer after trailer.
Eventually, we settled on Hidden Figures.
Hidden figures centers on three black women, all working for the prestigious NASA during the civil rights movement, in the 1960s. The movie’s protagonist is named Katherine, a math prodigy who was widowed and left with raising three children while juggling a full time job as a “computer”. Because of her mathematical genius, Katherine is pulled into Freedom 7, a project aiming to send an American astronaut into orbit, a response to Russia’s recent victory of sending the first man into space.
But I’m not here to discuss the movie.
I’m here to reflect on my feelings that immediately followed watching the film. If I had to put a label on my emotions, I would say that I felt inspired, followed by disappointment.
I was inspired by how three women accomplished such great feats: one woman petitioning to take night classes at a local, segregated high school and becoming the first African American engineer at NASA; another woman who saw her role as a computer becoming obsolete and ended up teaching herself Fortran, eventually leading the IBM team; another crunching numbers for the rocket’s landing coordinates. How can you not be inspired?
Until I started reflecting on my own, ordinary life. A number of questions popped into my head: What have I done with my life so far? What have I accomplished? How am I sitting here on the warm, leather couch after a “long” day of work, when these three, underprivileged, hardworking women were out hustling.
But then I return to my blessings. I’m lucky. I have a beautiful, loving, nurturing wife who I adore. I have two, tail wagging dogs that snuggle with us in bed, keeping us warm on those unexpecting, cold nights.