02 November 2015

500 days of solitude on Mars

In Ridley Scott’s The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) woke up on Mars alone. After a storm hit them, his team of space travellers mistook him for dead and continued with their mission without him.

Watney figured how to survive on the red planet one day at a time, by sciencing the shit out of it. He rationed available food, managed to grow potatoes, and found means to communicate with NASA. Rummaging through the abandoned spacecraft for whatever tools he may use, he dug up his commander’s music collection, entirely composed of disco classics. Sucks to be him. “No, I will not turn the beat around,” Watney vented.

Music inspires, no question about it, but you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Consider this playlist a 21st century version of “What CD will you bring when you get stuck on an island?” You are on your own. On Mars. Help — if it ever comes — may arrive 900 days later, more or less. What songs will keep you alive?

A little bit of everything, don’t you think? So I made a playlist which includes pop, classical, OPM (to make you feel closer to home), and, as much as Watney would disapprove, some disco.

Watney safely landed back on Earth and became a professor. On his first day in class, he shared with his students how he thought of death: “At some point, everything’s going to go south on you. 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,” he said and encouraged them to solve a problem, solve the next problem, and then the next problem, until they reach home.

It may be unlikely that you will be trapped on Mars, but you don’t need to be left for dead on another planet to feel alone, homesick, musing on mortality, looking for answers. Either way, this playlist should suffice.

—Originally published on GIST.PH

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