I’m a big Star Trek fan. I admit it. In Season One, Episode 16 of Star Trek The Original Series, which originally aired on January 5, 1967, there was an episode called “The Galileo Seven.”
If you’ve never seen this episode, I recommend watching it.
If you don’t have the time right now, here is a brief synopsis:
A shuttlecraft called The Galileo, under Spock’s command, crash-lands on a planet that has hostile life forms. The Enterprise has to leave orbit to deliver medicine elsewhere and is in a race against time to locate the shuttlecraft and rescue the seven members of the crew that are stranded on the hostile planet.
Spock, following the dictates of his orderly Vulcan mind, attempts to be totally logical with every decision he makes regarding leadership of his crew members, causing bitterness and resentment towards him with regard to some of his decisions.
Without going into the whole story, suffice it to say that at some point the alien creatures have surrounded the shuttlecraft and are physically holding it down, preventing lift-off. It becomes necessary to fire the ship’s boosters to break free for lift-off, but minus the boosters, they now are unable to effect a controlled landing. They have just enough fuel left to lift off into a limited, 45-minute orbit, or remain on the surface, getting pounded by the primitive, hostile creatures.
After the fuel runs out, their orbit will decay and the crew will slowly burn up as they enter the planet’s atmosphere, unless they are detected in time and safely beamed aboard by the Enterprise.
An Act of Desperation
Remaining on the planet’s surface would also make it extremely unlikely that the Enterprise will find them in time. Being in orbit is the only hope of being spotted and rescued by the Enterprise. They lift off, and Spock suddenly decides to jettison their last remainder of fuel, making this what the Enterprise crew later calls “an act of desperation,” a completely atypical emotion coming from the logical Mr. Spock.
He jettisons the fuel and ignites it, sending a blazing trail behind them. The Enterprise sees the blazing trail of jettisoned fuel and is able to rescue the crew, at the last possible moment before they have to abandon their search.
This episode had a powerful impact on me as a novel way of thinking. Instead of always playing it safe when the situation is desperate, sometimes you need to consider when it might be better to opt for a radical, totally irrational, illogical, insane option—that of risking it all on one desperate hope for success.
Now, that said, here’s my caveat: Don’t misunderstand me. I am not advising anyone to risk everything in a desperate situation—only to consider the option. You have to be the judge of whether that option feels right for you, and it is totally your responsibility to make that decision.
Another Story With A Similar Theme
Years before Star Trek, when I was a little girl and very impressionable, I watched on TV a version of Hans Christian Anderson’s story, “The Little Match Girl.”
In this video version, she is shown lighting only one match for the scene with her grandmother, but in the version I saw as a child, she eventually lit the entire bundle to keep the image going.
In this text version, which I believe is in the original words of Hans Christian Anderson, he does clearly state that she lit “the whole bundle of matches. . .”
Here is the excerpt:
“She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance.
“Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, [italics mine] for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon-day. and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.”
This story, to me, had a similar theme in which the little girl, freezing outside on a bitter cold New Year’s Eve night, unable to sell any matches and afraid to go home to her abusive father, lights match after match to view lovely, warm, and comforting images.
But each time the flame dies out, the image and warmth from the match fades away. Finally, she lights one and sees the image of her dead grandmother, the only person who ever loved her and treated her with kindness.
Desperate to keep the comforting image of her grandmother before her, she finally strikes all the rest of the matches together, in one big blaze of light and warmth.
She dies, happy to be reunited with her grandmother, and her grandmother takes her soul to heaven.
Of course, watching this story unfold on my TV screen as a young child, I cried because it seemed so sad (and it still brings tears to my eyes), but the message of burning all your candles at once (or, in this case, matches)–that last, desperate, go-for-broke gesture, taught me that sometimes, being frugal is not the best choice.
Insanity or A Leap of Faith?
Some could look at it as an impulsive act of desperation and insanity. It can lead to a quicker demise. Or it could be seen as a leap of faith and hope, which sends a powerful message to the subconscious mind, to get in gear and make this work because everything is riding on it.
It could be the life boat or life preserver ring that saves you at the last minute. It is certainly worth considering, and I know of cases where this was done with great success.
Each of us must decide, when faced with that do-or-die moment, what feels right. Taking a leap of faith could be the very thing that gets you out of a desperate situation.
I believe in trusting your intuition, especially if and when you feel a strong gut feeling that such a move would save you. Don’t ever make the decision lightly. It must be weighed and carefully calculated. But if you feel a strong ‘yes,’ then I believe you should act on that strong energy, and you must do it with confidence.
Sometimes, when one is desperate, one has to strike all the matches at once, jettison and ignite the last of your fuel; in other words, take a leap of faith and a giant risk to reach for the stars.
Sometimes, it is the one thing that will save you.
If you got value in reading this and it has struck a chord, raises questions or reminds you of a situation in your own life where you were faced with such a decision, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings, and I will respond to as many as I can.
If you know someone whom you think would get benefit and enjoyment from reading this, I ask you to please share this. Thank you!
In Peace and Love,