Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Martian (2015) Overcoming Adversity

The Martian, based on the novel, is a story set in the future about Botanist and Astronaut Mark Watney becomes the first man to colonize the freezing, hostile, and uninhabited planet of Mars.

He begins as a member of a six person crew who visit the planet to collect soil samples for study. Unfortunately, a terrible storm disrupts their mission, and the crew faces an emergency evacuation under the impression that Watney perishes in the storm. With no other choice, they leave him behind and set into motion his fight for survival unlike anything the world has ever seen.

The following are only some of the troubles he suffers in the 551 sols (Martian days) he spends on Mars and how he manages to overcome them:

Injuries: He is fatally injured during the storm in which he is left behind. His bodice is penetrated by a pole. First order of business is to remove it and close the wound. His habitat is fortunately stocked with medical supplies and he has the training required to perform his own surgery.

Limited Resources: Also stocked in his habitat are rations and equipment necessary to sustain his body. However, they are limited. In order for him to sustain himself in the time required to wait for rescue, he finds a way to create more sustenance. As a botanist, he would know how. He builds a green house and plants potatoes.

Communication Restrictions: The next big obstacle is to get a message to NASA that he is indeed alive. Only by dumb luck and an intitive NASA employee do they come to that realization. From there, Watney finds a way to communicate through an old rover and signs. Over time, it improves to the equivalent of interplanetary instant message.

Authoritative Restrictions: NASA then wastes no time hatching a plan to launch a mission to bring him home, but it is a sweet and sour relationship. They proceed to micro-manage his crops and rations, and Watney is not the type that takes orders and criticism well. Yet, he follows orders, because he knows he has no other choice if he is to achieve survival.

The worst thing about NASA’s decision making is their refusal to allow his crew to turn around for him. They recognize that such an act is mutiny and treason, but their love for Watney overrides their own sense of self-preservation. They come to understand that turning back for him is the the best option for Watney at great risk to their own survival and reputations. Love turns them around.

Loneliness: Despite support from NASA, no amount of instant message can take the place of face-to-face companionship. He spends almost two years with none. How can a man stay sane without any other human soul with whom to interact? Again, Watney uses what is at his disposal: video logs. He talks to a camera every day, detailing every step of his journey beginning moments after surgery until moments before climbs on the ship that takes him off Mars. He leaves no opinion, feeling, plan, or achievement restrained. Of course, the camera cannot talk back, but it is enough to keep him sane and his communication skills sharp.

Fear/Depression: There is no denying the amount of fear, loss, hopelessness, and depression putting stress on his body and mind. There are times he almost reserves himself to possible demise. He even writes a message to his crew requesting they contact his loved ones in case he doesn’t make it. Words cannot even express the severity of Watney’s feelings, because no one else on Earth can share his experience. However, he matches these feelings with wit, humor, outright defiance, and the unquenchable urge to return home.

Scripture says in James 1:2-4, “…when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

There is no story like The Martian. It takes a series of life’s adversities to a whole new level and characterizes a man who is able to rise above them all using a unique mix of faith, intelligence, skill, bravery, and wit.

Bottom line: Mark Watney is the ultimate survivor.

He is an inspiration. He defies every single odd against him. With the help of his team. With the help of his colleagues. With the help of his intuition. With the help of his drive to survive.

Let us all take inspiration from this story and remember God is with us during the good and the bad. Trust in him and persevere.

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