Trouble In Stasis
By Anthony Casperson
The movie begins. Darkness. The camera pans over faces of people sleeping in metallic pods. They’re in cryo-stasis. Frozen in time. Yet the ship they’re on continues to fly through space. Autopilot engaged.
And then something goes wrong. It’s what we expect when we see this opening. People in cryo-sleep never get to their destination unharmed. The ship hits something. Or a critical system goes awry. Or a fire burns several members of the crew. Sometimes, the people don’t go to the right destination. Or there’s an unknown detail at their destination that ends up killing many.
In the SyFy show, Dark Matter, the crew isn’t awakened by alarms. There’s nothing wrong with their ship. But the thing wrong is them. The crew’s memories have been erased. They’re essentially blank slates. Even when no deaths happen as a result of the cryo-sleep, something still goes wrong.
Why is there this cultural conditioning that tell us people in stasis will never wake up safe and happy? Why does there always have to be a negative outcome in our stories involving people who are frozen it time while they continue to move through it?
I think it has something to do with human beings knowing that there is no standing still in life. You move forward and progress, or you atrophy and die. There’s an innate understanding that whatever isn’t being used and growing is faced with eventual critical failure.
The people frozen in time aren’t progressing even as the world around them is. They’re trying to cheat the system. Therefore, critical failure of some sort has to happen. They face danger, death, disaster, or decay.
But if we understand this on an innate level, why do we sometimes just go through the motions? Why is autopilot sometimes our favorite option? We shut off many critical systems in our bodies and seek to survive with minimal effort. We let habits become reflex.
Sometimes, this comes about because life is too painful to live at full capacity. Abuse of any kind, depression, anxiety, crippling fears. The pain is too much to bear. And we numb ourselves to the pain by living just enough to survive.
Others do this because they don’t feel much point in living the life they’ve come to lead. Either through poor choices, or because of the inaction of others, some people find themselves where they never wanted to be. And shutting down becomes a coping mechanism to exist in this “failed” life.
Some experience life in a different way than others. Life bombards them with sensory input. Noises become cacophonies. Sensations become assaults. Shutting down several systems is the only way to turn down life.
And there are many other reasons why we human beings turn on the autopilot and descend into cryo. Yet we know that cryo will always lead to the detriment of those in it. Why do we prefer a slowly-imminent death in sleep over fighting to live while awake?
I think the answer to this is because many of us have given up. We know death is coming and it hurts less to die while asleep than while awake. We’ve come to let sin blind us to what we are truly supposed to experience. Death is a result of sin. And a tool well-wielded by it.
God created us to experience eternal life. A life lived in wholeness. He knows that we are meant to live fully awake. The bible calls us to stay watchful, be alert, because there is so much that seeks to destroy the representations of God that we are on this earth.
That’s not saying that we have to suffer through the pain like someone who’s undergoing surgery without sedatives. No, God is there, giving us the strength to deal with whatever it is we’re going through. We don’t always see him working. We don’t always let him work in us. But he is there moving in our lives.
The same bible that calls us to be alert tells us that Jesus came so that those who belong to him could live life abundantly (John 10:10). We who are followers of Jesus are to live extreme, extraordinary, remarkable lives that is so much more than what we’d expect, you could call it superfluous.
Yes, we’ll have pains and defeats and failures, but in light of the whole of life that God puts before us, those things should come to fade into the background.
In light of the things that God has called us to do: to love our neighbors, to live in hope, to lead others to him in faith, and to bring him glory, those times of trouble pale in comparison.
But there’s one key thing in saying this. It’s really easy to miss the work of God when we’re just going through the motions. Cryo-sleep can make us miss the ability to grow. We must be awake and alert so that we can join God in his work.
Yes, we’ll have to deal with pain and suffering, but at least we’ll have lived abundant lives doing what we were created to be.
Open the cryo-pod. Disengage the autopilot. And live.