Monday, December 15, 2014

What's Your Theory

Stephen Hawking

Over the weekend my husband and I saw The Theory of Everything, a movie about Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Jane (Felicity Jones).

If you're not familiar with Stephen Hawking, he is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.

Yeah, I'm glad the movie wasn't about that aspect of his life! I'm lost already. But he is an intelligent man.

The movie focused on how he met his wife Jane and how they dealt with his debilitating disease: Motor Neuron Disease, something similar to Lou Gehrig's.

In the movie when he was told he had this disease and what would eventually happen to him - the loss of muscle movement, the inability to swallow and the inability to speak - he asked about brain function. The doctor told him his thoughts would be the same as they are now, "Only one day…nobody will know what they are."

I can't imagine how scary and hopeless that must've been for a 21-year-old man.

He was also told he only had 2 years to live. Now he's almost 73!

As I watched this incredible movie (whether you agree with his views on God or not, it's an excellent movie) I noticed some things about his life that I can apply to mine. (Aside from the genius science study!)

4 Lessons Learned From Stephen Hawking:

Go beyond your limitations
When Hawking eventually lost his ability to walk and talk he didn't let that stop him. With the help of his Equalizer, a computer that helps him "speak", he continued to work, write books, and even booked speaking engagements. I'm sure the process was slower, and travelling took more time due to a wheelchair and the need of nurses, but he didn't stop doing what he loved.

Know your limitations
Hawking also knew when his limitations had reached their end. At a breaking point for his wife, Jane, she insisted they get help for him just to function in everyday life. He needed help eating, dressing and more. They hired nurses to come in around the clock to help him.

Take time for you
Jane's time was so consumed by taking care of her husband that she wasn't able to do what she loved. With the nurses hired, she was able to continue her own work (she has a PhD in Romance Languages) and to take time to sing in the church choir. Any mom knows that hour or two away from home once a week is very welcome. I imagine even more so for Jane.

Keep your sense of humor
I don't know if it's true of the real Stephen Hawking, but the way Eddie Redmayne portrayed him in the movie made him seem like he loved to be a little mischievous. While young, he was always smiling, and when older and unable to move, he had a twinkle in his eye. Life's circumstances can be overwhelming if you let them, but if Mr. Hawking can keep his sense of humor while living a life of immobility, you can keep yours in your current struggle.

This quote is attributed to Hawking in the movie. Whether or not he actually said it, I don't know, but either way, it's good words:

  • There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope.

This may be a simplistic view of the movie, but these are great reminders for life.

If you get the chance, go see The Theory of Everything. I wouldn't be surprised if Eddie Redmayne wins an award for his portrayal of Hawking - he was amazing.

Read my previous post: Lift Up Your Face and Live Life