The Martian is fantastic.
There’s a scene near the end once Matt Damon’s character has come home to earth after spending a somewhat traumatic time on Mars, where he gives a speech at the Nasa space-centre to a room full of budding astronauts.
I saw the film first time round in the cinema and the speech hit me like an uppercut from a 145-pound Conor Mcgregor, but obviously since I’m not heavy into the pirate dvd scene I happened to not be recording it from the back of the auditorium on a tri-pod, and being unable to watch it back, the scene lingered instead long in my memory, until it slowly evanesced into a muddle of garbled sentences that made no sense. I searched for it on YouTube for a few months but in vain.
It was only when on the plane to New Zealand a few weeks back that I got a chance to watch it again.
Sitting there, breathing in the recirculated air and dreaming of the snack trolley, at last the scene in question came into view. And once again it was a total KO, giving me no option but to pass the hell out. It was only by dint of the 15 hot towels dutifully brought to me by the stewardess that I eventually came round, watching it a cool 68 more times before transcribing it onto my boarding pass.
When I was up there, stranded by myself, did I think I was going to die? Yes. Absolutely. And that’s what you need to know going in, because it’s going to happen to you. This is space. It does not cooperate. At some point, everything is going to go south on you. Everything is going to go south, and you’re going to say.. this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that. Or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just.. begin. You do the math, you solve one problem. Then you solve the next one. And then the next. And if you solve enough problems you get to come home…
I think the words speak for themselves. But it’s not about space. It’s about every day of our lives. The myriad of tiny hurdles that emerge from each new day, and how the solving of these little problems ends up being the best portion of our lives. To roll the rock up the hillside every day. If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself, each day has enough trouble of its own.
It’s a reminder of the power of writing, and oratory, and of art in general. To transcend, and to say something well-trodden so well that it makes the subject matter new again. And you can’t but pay it attention. For those of you who find this all pretty unremarkable, I doff my cap, you’ve worked out a bunch of things that will take me a lifetime.