Apollo 13 is a movie worth watching. Or, if you have already seen it, worth watching again.
The movie, starring Tom Hanks and Ed Harris, tells the story of NASA’s aborted moon mission in 1970. An explosion in the spaceship’s oxygen tanks put the astronauts’ lives in danger, forcing the crew to try to make their way back to earth again without landing on the moon.
The tag line for the movie is, “Houston, we have a problem.” It’s a good line for a movie blurb and captures the danger and the drama in the situation well.
But the line that truly turned the situation around was a question that NASA Mission Control Director, Gene Kraz, asked right after the explosion in the oxygen tanks:
“What have we got in that ship that’s still good?”
That is perhaps the best question to ask at a time when everything has gone overwhelmingly wrong!
Focusing only on the enormity and unexpectedness of disaster can paralyse us into despair and inaction. But identifying and focusing on what is still working and within our control empowers us to find solutions – sometimes in the most unexpected ways!
By asking, “What have we got in that ship that’s good?” Mission Control and the Apollo 13 astronauts figured out a way to keep everyone on board alive by building makeshift CO2 filters using containers and duct tape aboard the ship that managed to expel carbon dioxide from the ship and get the astronauts back safely to earth.
Apollo 13’s astronauts survived because Mission Control asked the right question. Perhaps this is a good time to ask ourselves similar questions:
- What do we have in our lives that is still good?
- What is still working that we can build on, regardless of what has gone wrong?
- What are our strengths?
- What is the next thing we can do?
Focusing on finding answers to those questions can help us find the strength and solutions we need in difficult and trying times.
Janaki and Mahesh
for Team Anahat