Monday, February 11, 2013
Zero Dark Thirty: Purpose
(Note: To the extent that real life events can be "spoiled", this post contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.)
Saturday night I saw the Oscar-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty. It was different from what I expected, but that probably just means I didn't do my research. As you probably know, it is a portrayal of the finding and execution of terrorist Osama bin Ladin. I expected it to center on the raid itself, and to tell the truth I was wondering how that could hold my attention for over two hours. But that was just the last half hour or so. What the movie was really about was the CIA effort to find him, verify his location, and then set up the plan to go after him.
And it centered around a young CIA analyst (Maya, played by Jessica Chastain) who made that her life's purpose. While the true identity of the young lady may never be known (and is likely a character based on merging the work of several agents), her character is what made the movie work. She was recruited straight out of high school, and began working immediately on the search for bin Laden. That is all she ever did, and it truly became her life's purpose. It was an obsession, and it colored everything she did.
There was a very telling scene toward the end of the movie where the CIA director joined her for lunch in a cafeteria. Needless to say, she was nervous. He asked her about her career, and she made it clear that this search was it. All of it. Well, the CIA ends up believing that she is right about bin Laden's location, conduct the raid, and the rest is history.
But it was the final scene that grabbed me - that made me think about the opening question of this post. Maya is boarding a huge cargo plane, presumably to go home from Afghanistan and she is the only passenger. A crew member (or the pilot?) tells her she is the only passenger, and that she must be very important. Her mission is accomplished, the evil terrorist is dead, and she sits. As she does, the emotion pouring out of her is so intense. As we read a thousand different emotions in her expression, a tear rolls down her face. Cut to black.
What was she feeling? Relief? Yeah, probably. but I was reading emptiness too. The emptiness of having dedicated your life to a single thing, and then that thing is over. Her face was practically shouting, WHAT'S NEXT?
We were created for a reason. I believe we were created to bring glory to the one who created us. For each one of us, the manifestation of that will be different. It will certainly involve worship ("love the Lord your God with all your heart") and relationships ("love your neighbor as yourself"). But it will also involve putting the talents God gave us to use in a way that glorifies him. I believe, for example, that part of my purpose is to be the best actuary I can be.
But I don't believe God wants us to be like Maya. If I ever reach a point where I'm thinking, "Is this all there is?" the answer is an emphatic NO! I have a purpose and it involves a full lifetime. You do too. It's my prayer that we will all plug into the One who made us to find what that is, and live it to the fullest.
What were you made for?