My best friend Werner: Part 1

There’s nothing I love more than a deep exploration of the human spirit. Sometimes it comes in the form of stand up comedy, sometimes slam poetry, sometimes musical compositions, and sometimes it comes in the form of a film, pure and honest.

This weekend, I enjoyed two of these films, both directed by German director Werner Herzog. The first film I watched was “Encounters at the End of the World,” a lucky find from Goodwill. It set me back a whole four dollars, and left me with a brand new motivation to follow my dreams.

The documentary claims to capture the rarely seen beauty of Antarctica’s landscapes, which it does; the most prominent element of the film however, is not the glorious landscapes, but rather the incredible people who call the continent their home.

The 1000 people who live in Antarctica can be described as.. well, that’s the thing. There isn’t a single word in the English language to summarize the quirky yet passionate attitudes of these people. The small population is composed of biologists, volcanologists, pipe-fitters, ex-bankers, construction workers, and physicists, all with specific pursuits of their own into which they pour all of their time. In temperatures that generally hover around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you’d be hard pressed to find any of these folks without a grin on their face and water vapor stalactites dangling from their moustaches.

One of the first inhabitants we meet is philosopher and forklift driver Stefan Pashov, who gives a little insight into the colony’s members. He says:

“I think there’s a fair amount of the population here who’re full time travelers and part time workers. So, yes those are the professional dreamers, they dream all the time. And I think, through them the great cosmic dreams come into fruition because the universe dreams to our dreams. I think that there is many different ways for the reality to bring itself forward, and dreaming is definitely one of those ways.”

Having seen him transporting incredible masses of solid ice from behind the steering wheel of a forklift, I wasn’t expecting this man’s words to bear the same weight on my mind and heart. The universe dreams to our dreams. These people who commit to a life of exploring the unknown, whether it’s the drastic weight loss of a mother seal after she gives birth, or the tedious shell formation of a single-celled organism known as tree foraminifera that exhibits borderline intelligence. There is so much to be discovered, if only we should look.

This bit of wisdom resonated with me due to my being absolutely set on studying marine biology. I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life and being so thrilled to be doing it. Pashov calls his contemporaries “professional dreamers,” and the very term brings tears to my eyes and cause my heart to skip a beat.

This film proved that my future is plausible, that my desire to spend the rest of my life searching for the unknown isn’t quite so irrational. The universe will dream to my dreams, and that is an exciting truth.


Come back next week for Part 2, where I discuss Herzog’s film “Grizzly Man.”


Don’t be afraid to contact me. You can email me at [email protected], or tweet at @sweeeeeens. Thanks for reading!