Saw Matt Damon’s The Martian over the weekend. It was a fun movie. Some have suggested it is Apollo 13 meets Castaway. I agree with the suggestion that it is more like an episode of MacGyver on Mars. Best of all, it is a portrayal of resilience for challenging times.
Within the early moments of the movie, Mark Whatley (Matt Damon) lands into catastrophic circumstances. While he is able to reflect on the gravity of his situation, he is never stuck or resigned to his lot in life. He commits to “science to s#!t” out of his difficulties. That seems to take place in three primary ways.
Tasking the Problem: The movie is a mouse maze of dead-end turns and resorting to
“Plan B.” The crew on Mars had enough meal supplies for their stay on Mars. When circumstances change, food is a problem that Watney must solve. Fortunately, Watney is a botanist. He is a botanist who discovers a cache of potatoes from a packaged designed for Thanksgiving. He transforms a space into the first farm on Mars, and engineers for all the needs of his crops.
Failure: To supply water to plants, he first fails… almost blowing himself up. Yet, this is not a point of departure. It is a moment of doubling down of his efforts to try, try again. He learns from his mistakes and strives to ensure his safety this time. This is not a time for harsh self-correction. Watney choices a grimace and a grunt to acknowledge his failure. He takes a moment of dark humor to ease the frustration, and then back to tasking the problem.
Momentarily Celebrating and Moving On: When the first potato crop comes in and extended Whatley’s food store, he exclaims that he “Is the best damn biologist on the planet.” And he is. It is a temporary moment of joy, but the celebration is authentic. It is also a moment in which he does dwell long. Onto the next challenge he proceeds.
The story of The Martian matches with the never-ending mission of making disciples. It recalls the need to shake the emotional dust off your shoes where you are not welcomed. This story celebrates the bring home of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Lost Son, and the grown seeds that produced fruit despite other seeds that suffered landing on rocky soil or were mistaken for birdseed. Keep on keeping on planting potatoes on Mars, people. It is a good and honorable life.