Last week I took the kids to go see the new Matt Damon movie: The Martian.
The story is pretty simple. America has sent a maned exploration to Mars to collect data, when a violent storm threatens to destroy the spacecraft they use to return to earth. In a tense moment of uncertainty, the captain decides to abort the mission and leave the planet early.
On the way back to the spacecraft, something goes wrong, and Damon’s character (Mark Whatney) is literally thrown away from the craft with visibility nearly zero. The team can’t seem to contact him, and they make the unbelievable decision to go ahead and take off from the planet without Whatney.
This happens all in a time period of 15 minutes, so the rest of the movie is the tension between the Space Program back on earth, the crew flying through space to return home (about a year and half journey), and Whatney left for dead on the red planet.
The Take Away
The movie is full of tense moments wondering if Whatney will make it through the abandonment until NASA can re-send supplies, or figure out how to land another space mission on Mars to pick him up. Food, Water, and just the ordeal of living alone for months on a planet nearly 5 million miles from earth are enough to create the needed dramatic story to keep us on the edge of our seats for the two and half hour feature.
As I was watching, I kept thinking this might be an unbelievable metaphor for so many people feeling lonely today. I can’t even begin to imagine what it might be like to live in a world where every single decision may lead to imminent demise. But working with University students today; I can see how it may feel that way.
Sure, there’s no real worry about the air we breath around us, at least here in America. It’s not like we’re going to decompress and our eyes pop out of our head if we don’t take care of the constant air pressure around us. But there are moments in life we look up in the sky and wonder Who in the world will come and save me from this “life mess” I’ve got myself into?
Just last night I was working with a group of High School students, and when asked “What is your biggest fear when you go to school?” they all chimed in, “Wondering if my group of friends really care about me.”
They all wanted to be people who could have different friend groups, but in reality; they all tend to lean in on the safety of the people they already know. And then, when life turns to present difficulties, they get a chance to see who will actually come to their rescue.
And it’s not just in High School.
For the last two weeks, I’ve attended two different weekend men’s retreats, and the sentiment is somewhat the same.
Of course men tend to lean in on the fact they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make life what they want to make it. But there are enough men out there who are feeling loneliness in their job, loneliness in their marriage, loneliness with their kids, and they wonder; is anyone really going to be out there to walk through life with them.
Overall, I think the Martian is a great metaphor for us to see relationships play out where people really care about one another. In them most unbelievable of stories, there’s this intrinsic place for humans to reach out and sacrifice for one another.
I wonder what the world would look like if we all were willing to sacrifice time, resources, and our own self interests to save another?
Maybe this plague of loneliness would begin to fade away……..