• Introduction (coming soon)
    • About Me
    • My Motivations
    • A Stage for Rational Discourse
  • The Mind: Internal Reality
    • The Importance of Belief
    • The Illusion of the Self
    • Consciousness
  • The Universe: External Reality
    • The Origin and Future of The Universe
    • The Illusion of Free Will
    • Control In Understanding
    • Freedom As An Emergent Property of Consciousness
  • Personal Well-being
    • Happiness
    • Selfishness


I saw two movies recently which had me tearing up on the couch. This may surprise people who know me only on the surface from work or elsewhere because I typically give off a very level-headed, calm / composed vibe. Of course, I am quite playful and happy at work and elsewhere when I'm out an about, but I am rarely (if ever) sad — it typically only happens when I'm watching a movie or reading a touching story. So yes, I do find many movies quite moving, and it seems it just depends on how much I can personally identify with the message the director is trying to convey. I remember the end of the LOTR trilogy when Frodo had to leave Sam and the others... man that was a tear-jerker for sure. In a similar vein to Frodo's apparent selflessness in volunteering to take the ring to Mordor, the two movies that made me cry recently were largely about self-sacrifice and doing things for something larger than oneself — and these things really hit home for me. They are:

What I find interesting sometimes is watching how other people react differently to movies that have moved oneself. In this case, I know other people who watched these same films and they didn't seem to be affected at all... it was just like any old movie for them. Of course, not everyone really gets into movies in the first place, some people "watch" a movie but what that means is periodically checking their phone, thinking about other things, and sort of watching the movie in the background of their mind. I'm the exact opposite — when I watch a movie I completely absorb myself into the movie. I get annoyed by distractions so I put my phone away and hone in on the movie because I really want to understand exactly what message the director is trying to convey. So part of the reason why not everyone gets moved by a given film is simply because they just weren't really focused on the movie in the first place. But for these films especially, another reason is probably for the simple fact that not everyone identifies with sacrificing themselves for others, or doing work at a cost to themselves for a greater purpose. I think it's reasonable to say from observation alone that most people still lead relatively self-centered lives, lives where they (or at best their immediate family) are the center of their own universe and everyone else is just a side character in their story. That seems to be our default setting[1] and even for those of us who have seen beyond that we have to periodically remind ourselves to get out of that mode. Why does it matter either way, you ask? Simply because I believe that a world filled mostly with people who are self-centered won't likely be as prosperous as a world where most people care about the society as a whole — and indeed this is one of the central messages of Meet the Robinsons. Whether you agree or not, check it out (along with Ferdinand) — I recommend both highly! :)

  1. There's a really insightful speech on this topic by David Foster Wallace called *This Is Water. If you haven't listened to it yet, it's definitely worth checking out. ↩︎

Share on: