Three Air Force pilots; Colonel Clegg Forbes, Major William Gart, and Colonel Ed Harrington, find themselves in a hospital due to their spaceship crashing in the desert after a failed mission into space. Forbes and Harrington are released from the hospital while Gart is left nursing wounds in his hospital bed. Harrington and Forbes visit a local bar to take the edge off their failed mission and Harrington shares with Forbes his feelings about not belonging here. Harrington cannot explain why he feels the way he does but he just feels he and the other two men should not have made it back from space. Forbes, unable to find the answers to Harringtons questions, just listens to Harrington. Still feeling uncertain about belonging, Harrington calls his parents on the payphone in the bar to reassure himself he is where he belongs only to find out his parents don’t know who he is, they explain they don’t have a son, and they hang up the phone. Harrington, understandably panics and explains to Forbes what has happened. Forbes attempts to calm Harrington down but cannot. Forbes walks away from Harrington just for a moment and when he turns around, Harrington has disappeared.
Feeling a sense of panic, Forbes heads home to seek the comfort of his spouse, similar to the way Harrington called his parents. Forbes’ spouse doesn’t understand what he is talking about and doesn’t recognize the name Harrington. It is as if Harrington never existed. Forbes makes his way back to the only other person he can trust, Gart. When Forbes explains to Gart what has happened to Harrington, Gart doesn’t recall a pilot or a person by that name, he only remembers the two of them, Gart and Forbes, making the space flight. Panicked, Forbes runs out of Gart’s room with Gart on his heels. When Gart makes his way into the hospital hallway, Forbes has disappeared. Gart doesn’t know where to turn and makes his way back to his hospital room and sees a newspaper listing only his name as the lone pilot who crashed in the desert after a failed space flight. A doctor and nurse walk down the hospital corridor and make their way into an empty hospital room that can house three patients, the room once belonged to Gart who now himself has disappeared.
The lesson I have taken from this Twilight Zone episode is not one of space flight but one of grounding and community. We all experience exciting, scary, joyful, and painful things in life. Those excitements are less enjoyable when we are unable to share them with people we care about and who care about us. The scary and painful experiences are burdens, when carried alone, become unbearable, but when shared, can be processed and dealt with. In times of joy and sorrow, we need to have a circle of people we can share our lives with, to celebrate with us, to comfort us in times of fear, to talk through problems together, and to stand by our side when we don’t want to be alone.
Harrington had Forbes and his parents, Forbes had his spouse and Gart, and Gart didn’t have anyone. When each man realized he was alone, he disappeared. Life was not meant to be experienced alone. We are creatures that survive and thrive in a tribe, being surrounded by people who have our best interests at heart, who want us to succeed, who care when we are hurt, lend a hand when we are in need and a shoulder when we need cry.
We are currently experiencing a time of uncertainty, each hour seems to bring new information but also new unanswered questions. We are forced to physically separate ourselves from our tribe in order to keep everyone safe but it is in these times of separation when we need each other the most. During these times of uncertainty please do not feel you are alone and disappear. Reach out to one another to check in with each other, share a joke, share memories and stories, lend an ear, and just be present with one another. Do not allow the current situation to make you or your loved ones feel alone. We are still together as a tribe even though we may not be physically near each other. Let this time of uncertainty be a time when we can strengthen our bonds with one another and find new ways to support one another.