Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Beyond our resources—Carolyn R. Wilker

It’s rare that I go to the movies or even watch one on television, but recently I went to see one at the theatre with a friend, 3-D glasses, giant screen—the whole deal except for the popcorn.
The Martian opens with a group of astronauts on the planet of Mars. The captain decides to abort the mission when a sandstorm comes up and the team is in agreementexcept that one of the six was hit with flying debris, and they believe him to be dead. The remaining crew members leave the planet without him. 
On their return to Earth, the chief scientist at NASA announces sombrely that the crew has returned from the mission to Sol except for the sixth member, Watney (played by Mark Damon). They hold a funeral service for him back home and the other members of the crew go back to their duties. Sometime later, as NASA explores the planet by satellite, they discover movement at Sol and discover that Watney is very much alive, proven when he begins sending messages back to Earth.
The movie is essentially about whether or how NASA can bring him home, and Watney on Mars, figuring out how to survive as an inhabitant of the planet until such a time as he can return home. The astronaut understandably goes through many emotions, from fearing he’ll die there to figuring how he can stretch the resources in the hubble to keep himself alive until the next mission. He uses all the astrophysics laws he knows and all the resources left behind from the failed mission and a previous one too.
My friend Doris said she liked how the different countries worked together to try solve the problem. I appreciated that too, but also that the astronaut team was a mix of men and women and the women had as much input as the men. Another place that stood out for me was the time when all their possible solutions might still fail and one of the men at Mission Control says, “My Mom was a Baptist and my father was a Buddhist,” suggesting that they pray. The head of NASA said essentially, “Whatever works.”
The movie shows how it often works, that we, too, often leave prayer as a ‘last ditch’ effort. It’s good to use our brain for problem solving, as well as the resources available to us, and to accept the assistance of others.
We may not go on a mission as complicated as that fictional one to Mars, but we can pray ‘along the way’ for wisdom and direction as King Solomon did when he began his reign over Israel in Old Testament times (1 Kings 3:7). It might seem that Solomon had as much to manage, in terms of people, complicated relationships, property and conflict, in his time, as astronauts do in our time in a real mission to outer space. Solomon looked over his new kingdom and declared his need of help in governing it.
You need to go and see the movie for yourself. Just remember that, day to day, you don’t have to wait until all your physical resources have been exhausted to pray about a situation.  Pray as you go, asking for wisdom and direction, whatever the challenges might be, ‘cause we all have them.

Carolyn Wilker is a writer and editor from Ontario, Canada.


Peter Black said...

Heh! Heh! I smile Carolyn, because when I'm working on trying to fix something around the house or yard and begin fussing when I'm not just not getting it right, my wife will say, "Well, have you prayed about it?" My sheepish reply: "Er ... well, not yet; guess I'd better!" That's often been the turning point.
Thanks for the overview of the film. Interesting. The thought struck me that Robinson Crusoe isn't dead after all, he 'lives on' in the Watney's and in those individuals who, cast alone in a situation demonstrate great resourcefulness and find a way to make it through, against all odds. Hmm, those who pray, calling on the name of the Lord - are they really alone? ~~+~~

Peter Black said...

Er, Ms Editor. I have a possessive apostrophe on Watneys plural. Tch! Tch!

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

What imagination you have, Peter, but you're right. We're more resourceful when we need to do it alone. And some can feel very alone.
I don't comment on punctuation when someone leaves such gracious remarks. :)

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