I watch movies more than I probably should. Although I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with film, movies have been a part of my life as long as I can remember—whether it was watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” every Christmas or being forced to see “To Kill a Mockingbird” by my grandmother, my childhood was dotted with films I would love more and more as I got older. In high school, I’d find myself pretending that I could multitask well enough to watch “Fargo” and do Calculus homework at the same time (which I couldn’t)—and my preferred social activity was watching movies with friends.

My interest in film became more serious, though, during my senior year of high school. I started to frequent an old, local indie theater and made a goal to watch all of the American Film Institute’s list of the “100 Greatest Movies” before I came to Duke. Although I haven’t gotten through the entire list—I keep getting distracted by other films—incorporating cinema into my weekly procrastination routine has provided cultural and artistic insights I haven’t otherwise been able to connect to through books or television.

This is why I find myself writing about the same subject for my first Editor’s Note as I wrote about for my first ever Chronicle article: movies. Around this time last year, I picked up a story about the Retro Film Series at the Carolina Theatre. About every week, the Theatre screens a double feature of two retro films—and even includes door prizes and commercials from the time period when the two films were released. Dragging some O-Week friends to a double feature, the experience quickly made the Theatre my favorite place in Durham. It was the first time I felt at home in the city—if not for the theater itself, then for what was being played on the screen. It was comforting to know that, after a stressful week of classes, I could always go catch a Retro—or maybe a film from one of the Carolina Theatre’s many festivals—with friends as a way to forget about the pressures of Duke for a while. After visiting the Theatre, I came to realize why films have been so important to me while I’ve been in college—they remind me that, though my life continues to change, the important things tend to stay the same.

Although “The Graduate” provides me with a different meaning each time I watch it—as my future becomes more defined—its main character Benjamin appears equally lost each time I begin his story anew. And (spoiler alert) the Earth is always consumed by nuclear detonations at the end of “Dr. Strangelove,” regardless of if I’m viewing the political comedy in Perkins Library or across the country in my native San Diego. While the story on screen stays the same, the story of the person watching the screen has changed. In all of the rush and stress of college, seeing movies has provided a lens through which I can connect to my past, but also through which I can be honest with myself about how time has changed my outlook on life.

In addition to making me think about how my life has already changed, movies also remind me of who I want to become. I know I’ll never be as chill as The Dude in “The Big Lebowski” or as effortlessly glamorous as Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard,” but watching the characters on-screen reminds me that these qualities exist—something especially useful to remember when I become a stressed-out blob during midterm season. While Clint Eastwood’s character Blondie in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is far too badass to actually be real, his larger-than-life persona makes his rugged bravery seem at least a little bit attainable. If Blondie could survive trekking through the desert, torture and numerous gunfights… what could possibly stop me from surviving an all-night study session? Though I know characters in film are often unrealistic, their pronounced traits provide a reminder of the qualities I hope to incorporate into my own life—as much as I realistically can.

For all these reasons, I’ll probably re-watch “Double Indemnity” once I’m done writing this article, instead of getting ahead on my political science reading like I should. I know I’m just attempting to justify my procrastination, but sometimes I feel like I learn more about the world and about myself through films than I ever could through a textbook. So I guess the question isn’t whether or not I have the time to watch a movie tonight—it’s “which movie do I want to watch next?”