Happy Independence Day! I am happy to report that I just finished reading “The Martian” by Andy Weir. In other news, I am sad to report that there is nothing left of “The Martian” for me to read (Sigh!). Consider this post a “public service announcement” of sorts. I feel compelled to share with everyone I can possibly reach on planet Earth this incredible, interplanetary tale by Mr. Weir.
You may be wondering why I am blogging about a book, particularly a work of fiction, rather than a travel destination, a restaurant or a cultural event. Also, you may be wondering what this book has to do with America’s Independence Day celebration. Allow me to explain.
“The Martian” can be viewed as a metaphor for digging down deep to free ourselves, not from a domineering British Empire but, rather, from our own personal fears which we let dominate and rule our lives. The Declaration of Independence endows us with certain unalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, I meet so many people (non-Americans included) who are too afraid to actively implement these rights in a literal and fulsome way. Bear with me, people.
“The Martian” tells the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut/botanist/engineer who gets stranded alone on Mars during a mission that went very wrong. His supplies and days are numbered. He faces the constant and unforgiving environment of “the red planet.” Will Mark live? Will Mark die? Can he use his skills, perspective and sense of humor to his advantage? HA! I will NOT reveal the ending of this story. You will have to read it yourselves. But, here is what I will say:
Esteemed literary critics have dubbed “The Martian” a “MacGyver-trapped-on Mars” tale and “Robinson Crusoe on Mars.” I will add that “The Martian” provided me with some of the very best few hours I have ever spent alone. It is one of the most original and imaginative books I have ever read. I was fascinated by the jaw-dropping science. I was riveted by the seamless flow of Andy Weir’s suspenseful plot. I grew extremely attached to all of the characters in the story. I burst repeatedly into fits of guttural laughter in very public places. Seriously! I laughed out loud on the ‘L’, on a CTA bus, at Midway Airport and on a plane from Chicago to New York at 30,000 feet. And, I was not embarrassed at all! I did not apologize.
“But, Solo Roamer, what does “The Martian” have to teach me about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? What does it have to do with Independence Day?” you may be asking. OK. Ready? The next time you are feeling too afraid or self-conscious to travel solo, dine solo, see a movie solo or attend any cultural event solo, liberate yourself from those fears by gaining a little perspective and keeping a sense of humor that will help you live a happier life. It could be worse. You could be stranded alone on Mars left to fend for yourself against the incredible interplanetary challenges which Mark Watney faces in “The Martian.” And that is the very best news on this Independence Day!
So, again, I highly encourage you to run to the nearest library, bookstore or even Amazon.com and start reading “The Martian.” Until then, I will leave you with the following well-known poem for further inspiration:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – true author unknown
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.