Houston do you copy? Defying the odds and my potato harvest

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.” – Mark Watney

So it happened again. I’m not proud of it. It’s definitely becoming a pattern. I was inspired to blog about a random movie I saw on a plane. Hey it’s a long flight back from Korea and I was in a vulnerable and sensitive state of mind. Okay, okay I’m just a sucker for life metaphors!

The Martian. Awesome. Funny, witty, sarcastic, dreamy. And that’s just Matt Damon’s character. Wait did I just call Matt Damon dreamy? Well, if you gotta have a man-crush he’s not a bad choice, right?

To say that this movie pleasantly surprised me would be a huge understatement but what I really enjoyed was the message. The movie spoke to me given my current life situation. More on that later.

Warning: plot details below! Read at your own risk. But seriously keep reading please.

If you are not familiar with the film it’s about a team from NASA exploring the planet Mars and suddenly they have to evacuate due to a massive storm. During their effort to evacuate, a large piece of debris strikes one of the crew members (Mr. Dreamy, I mean Matt Damon’s character) and the rest of the crew assumes he dies and they leave him behind. Mark Watney (Damon) is a botanists – a damn good one at that (I hear he was the best on the planet at one point) and is able to innovatively survive years on potatoes grown by water he makes from scratch and homemade fertilyzer (if you get my meaning).

Anyway, as you can clearly see the storyline is incredibly realistic and I actually thought it was based on a true story until I realized Obama killed NASA. Thanks Obama!
But after my righteous anger for the president finally subsided, I took in this flick and was able to make several connections to my own life. Enjoy.

1. I feel very isolated a lot of the time. Don’t get me wrong the support I have received from family and friends so far has been much appreciated. It’s invaluable I know. My therapist is amazing and has been where I am. He can relate to me on many levels. But I am isolated all the same. I’m thousands of miles from my children. I am separated from my wife. I have completely lost friendships that once were strong and stable. I am isolated. But I am not alone. I am not having to fight this battle with no one in my corner. Mark Watney was totally isolated – or so he thought. The day he discovered he could successfully grow potatoes NASA discovered he was alive and starting working around the clock on a rescue mission attempt. I know people are praying for me. I know that I have people in my corner. Some I see on a daily basis and some I seldom see. Some I may never see. But I know they are there. Knowing this gives me a boost. It’s humbling and inspiring.

2. Sitting around doing nothing will kill me. Well not literally kill me but my recovery will be in major jeopardy. I must be proactive. I must show grit and determination. Giving up hope is not an option just as it wasn’t an option for Watney. Everyday I must make a conscience effort to do something that propels me toward my goals. Watney’s work ethic was out of this world. See what I did there? It had to be for him to reach his goal of survival. What I loved about this film is that he didn’t just survive, he thrived. He made the most of his predicament and used humor, music and video journals to help pass the time and put a positive spin on his dire situation. I like that. I need more of that.

3. My life feels like I landed on Mars. Sometimes when I think of how different my life is compared to 6 months ago I get pretty overwhelmed. These are uncharted waters for me for sure. The last few months have been full of “firsts” and they haven’t really slowed up that much either. Some of the new territory has been good and necessary. Some have been incredibly painful. I am realizing that those experiences are often necessary as well.

4. I cannot rescue myself. It quickly became apparent that Watney’s rescue was dependent of others back on Earth. I know now that even though I have a big part to play in my recovery, I will also need to lean on others for support, treatment, advice and accountability. Community is so important for recovery. The isolation I feel cannot become the norm. I must connect. I need real and healthy relationships for me to sustain the growth that has occurred.

5. It’s possible to reap a harvest in a hostile and desolate land. This is possibly my main takeaway because of how powerful the picture of life in a place like Mars is. If my situation is Mars then addiction recovery represents harvested potatoes. I realize that most addicts don’t recover. The numbers say that the odds are stacked against me. I will do all that I know to do to defy those odds.

So I put my hope in God because He doesn’t abide by numbers. I am weak and powerless and am a terrible botanists so if the miracle of recovery is going to happen, ultimately He will play the biggest role.



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