Karl and I watched The Martian on demand last night. We have the book but neither of us had read it yet (so many books, so much research to do, so little time!). It's the story of an astronaut, Mark Watley (played by Matt Damon). who is stranded on Mars and uses his brain and ingenuity to survive until his crew members return for him. About halfway through, we were bracing for the painful, horrible, gruesome deaths of those crew members as they went about trying to rescue him. Thank you, Ridley Scott, for taking the high road, letting viewers focus on the magic of the story rather than gratuitous violence and gore.
I woke up thinking about this film and the five takeaways I have from it.
- Obstacles happen. Things go wrong.
- Prepare. The flight team had considered and prepared for many potential difficulties they might experience on such a mission, and knew their equipment and ship inside and out. Still, life on Mars was beyond their control. They had a contingency plan.
- You already have the answers within you. Watley drew from his knowledge of many sciences to survive. Most of us won't be going to Mars, and won't have the high level of training he had, but we probably have some learning and experiences to help us through situations we encounter if we use the resources we have.
- Ask for help. Watley was brilliant, but no one knows everything, and everybody needs help from time to time. It's the smart thing to set the ego aside and ask. Using the point and nod technique works just fine if that's all you have to communicate. My dogs point at the cookie jar, hoping I will nod. Usually I do. It's all good.
- People are more important than missions and money. Okay, partly it was a PR thing--the bureaucrats knew the agency wouldn't survive if the public learned they'd left a man behind, so they launched the rescue mission. Sacrificing the man seems the more likely thing to happen in reality, and the crew would have had much more difficulty choosing to spend almost two more years in space and away from their families on a risky rescue attempt. But no one would have been able to stomach the deliberate abandonment of Watley. I like to think love conquers all.
What are your thoughts? I'd love to see your comments.
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