The first manned aircraft into space leaves the grip of Earth with eight men aboard. Shortly after take off, ground control loses contact with the aircraft and presumes the aircraft and its crew will forever be lost in space. We meet the crew after their aircraft has crashed in an unknown location where the air is safe to breath, the land is dry, mountainous, rocky, and barren.
Captain Donlin, Flight Officer Corey, Flight Officer Pearson, and Navigator Hunack (who is seriously injured) are the only surviving crew members. The four other crew members have perished along with the aircraft and all supplies. All the men have are each other. Donlin begins dolling out protocol, believing this time more than any requires order for survival. Corey, believes that unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and begins questioning Donlin’s orders. Pearson, a loyal follower of Donlin’s, listens, does what he is told, and cares for Hunack until he passes away.
These men are in a stressful situation where not only their aircraft and supplies are lost but so is their hope. To their knowledge, ground control will not be able to find them and even if they do, the aircraft they manned was the first and only of its kind. With the fear of death nipping at their heals, Donlin suggests separating and looking for anything they can find to aid in their survival. Corey and Pearson leave their base camp and only Corey returns. Donlin asks Corey where his crew mate is and Corey states they separated and he later found Pearson at the bottom of a valley, dead. Being skeptical of his story, Donlin asks Corey to take him to Pearson so he can see for himself what happened to Pearson. After walking for hours, they finally come upon Pearson who is still alive but gravelly injured. Donlin rushes over to Pearson and Pearson, unable to speak draws a cross in the sand and passes away. Donlin believes Pearson is trying to tell him of something he saw. Donlin decides to walk up the rocky mountain he believes Pearson had slipped down only to be shot and killed by Corey. With the only two other survivors dead, Corey begins to walk alone in the direction up the mountain with the hopes of finding something other than rocks, sand, and sun. After walking until he can’t walk anymore, Corey comes upon what Pearson drew in the sand, the cross was not a cross at all. At the top of the mountain, Corey sees a telephone poll, a road, a bus, and a sign that reads “Reno 97 miles”. Corey realizes they never truly left the grips of Earth.
We are currently facing a situation not all that different than Donlin, Pearson, and Corey. They were pioneers into a world of the unknown with only their supplies and protocol to lead them to safety. Though we are not traveling into space, we are traveling into an unknown territory of living with a virus we cannot see, a cure we do not know, and no end in sight. We are living in very uncertain times and I believe that many of us have gone through the emotions of Donlin, Corey, and Pearson. We have felt like Donlin looking for order and direction to be able to make sense of the chaos. We have felt like Pearson looking to follow the directions that are given with the hopes that a positive end will result. And we have felt like Corey, gripping at whatever we can to feel like we have some control in a world where everything seems to be out of control.
I believe we can use this Twilight Zone episode as one we can learn from. We have very little data on this new world we are living in, we have some rules and regulations that we need to follow in order to remain safe and live long enough to see the other side, and we need to do what is not only best for ourselves, but what is best for all of us. This virus is not one that only effects the individual, it effects the family, the community, and the country.
We need to assess in these uncertain times what we can control and control those things. We can control our attitude, we can control our behavior, we can control our breathing, and we can control our outlook. We cannot control others, we cannot control supply of food, medicine, masks, toilet paper, etc. We cannot control this virus and how it operates within our world. True chaos comes in when we try to control that which we cannot control.
I know these are scary times and people, in general, do not deal well with the unknown and worse so in the unknown we have no control over. I encourage you to be like Pearson, follow the rules and protocol of those who you trust. Follow the rules and regulations that are given. Seek comfort in contributing to the greater good and taking control over what you can actual control. When you are scared and overwhelmed, know you are not alone. We are all in this together, we are all here wandering around this unknown territory trying to find our road signs or directions on how we can get through this. Seek peace in your faith, in your knowledge of knowing what is the right thing to do, and patience with all, including yourself, as we all go through this.