“We can go three weeks without food, three days without water, and three hours without shelter,” Kate Winslet’s character, Alex, declares when her plane crashes in the snowy mountain wilderness. Her expertise comes straight from survivalist’s guides that are a dime a dozen. But the warnings say nothing about the fate of the human heart when it is in survival mode. How can we be a soul survivor when all hope seems lost? Even more interesting, what happens to relationships when people face a fight for their lives?
That is the premise for this story of survival, The Mountain Between Us. Two strangers, Alex and Ben, come together to charter a flight to Denver when air traffic control grounds all commercial flights because of a winter storm. The pilot of that twin-engine plane doesn’t file a flight plan, and midway through the trip, suffers a stroke, causing the plane to crash high in the Rocky Mountains in the middle of January. Alex, Ben, and the pilot’s dog survive. The rest of the movie is about their journey back to civilization. But it’s also more than that.
Most survival movies are about the resourcefulness of the survivors. Can they figure out a way to make a fire, find shelter, get food. That isn’t really the case with this movie. First, a mountain lion comes to the crash site, looking for food. The dog defends Alex who’s gone lame, but she’s able to kill the big cat with a flare gun. Voila! Food to last several days. And Ben is a doctor who tends the dog’s wounds. Yay! The dog survives (that is important…).
Secondly, gas from the plane provides fuel for fire while Alex mends from her wounds. And, thirdly, of course there’s enough snow to make water for drinking. So, with those dire needs taken care of, at least for the moment, the movie then takes on another theme altogether. Namely, it asks how does extreme hardship change a person? And when more than one person is involved, how does hardship affect their relationship?
I appreciated that the characters fight with one another on how to get help. Each one comes from different backgrounds, so Ben, a neurosurgeon, wants to play it safe, while Alex a photojournalist who’s been in dire situations before, wants to set out on foot to save themselves.
I also appreciated the give and take, the compromises both make to reach common ground on how to proceed. And I loved how each person’s character grows to the point of placing the other person’s needs above their own. Heck, they even make certain the dog survives. And as all dogs do, the lab saves the humans on more than one occasion.
Art imitating life. Desperate times come into our lives. They just do. We’ve endured our own in this little family. I contracted cancer at the same time doctors told my husband he might lose his eye, and all this happened when he was going through comprehensive exams for his PhD. And just to throw in more hardship on top of pain and suffering, we were both taking care of parents who were on very slow and arduous death marches.
Interestingly, we call that decade of sorrow, agony, and, oftentimes, hopelessness, our wilderness years. There were times we questioned whether we would ever make it through them. There were times we fought each other because we were simply so distressed we each thought we knew a better way through it than the other. Some days seemed so difficult we could only think about the immediate task ahead and plow on. And sometimes, just getting up in the morning required determination.
No doubt about it, desperate times are a kind of breaking. Yet, sometimes, we must tear down a structure in order to build something stronger and better in its place. The human condition is no different. Turmoil tears down a soul, but by God’s grace, a new strength arises to replace the weaker one. We become soul survivors. And relationships? Well they take an active resolve to see past the anger, the frustration, and quite frankly, the fear, to how both persons are changing and growing. Both must realize that two people who resolve to work together are better than one person going it alone.
And so, with that, Here are My Tips for Being a Soul Survivor
- Don’t make any big decisions at night, or when you’re tired, frustrated, or feeling hopeless. Sound decisions are just about impossible when the heart is desperate, or the pain is unbearable.
- Meditate, read Scripture, do yoga, whatever it takes to find that place of peace, where your soul is at rest. Only when our souls have experienced this kind of nurturing can we make wise decisions in times of agony. For me, it is meditating on Scripture that that reminds me that though circumstances may change, God remains constant, and good. That is where I find restorative peace.
- Make time for fun with the ones who are in the struggle with you. Souls and relationships simply need down-time, fun times, laughter, and love.
- Get a dog, for crying out loud! I cannot tell you how many times they’ve saved me, how many times they’ve made me laugh when all I could do was cry. They truly are God’s gift to humans.
So, give love, live loved, live strong, and hug a dog! Have a great weekend everybody.