You are not alone

When Opportunity, the rover sent to explore the possibility of life on Mars, landed on the red planet in July 2003, it was expected to be active on its mission for 3 months. It survived for almost 15 years, sending back more than 217,594 images before NASA lost contact.

In June 2018, ‘Oppy‘ sent back its last message to earth: “my battery is low and it’s getting dark”

This led to a global outpouring of grief. Why? The message is just a human translation of something like “battery charge 3%, solar input 1%” and Oppy was a machine, so what made people feel so deeply sad?

Amongst the many explanations, my theory is that it’s the same reason we choose to believe that a cartoon Wall-E could fall in love and save the planet, the same reason Pinocchio wants to become a real, live boy.

We want to feel.

Like Pinocchio, we want to feel because, like Wall-E, we want to love. We want to take a break from all the analyzing, judging, comparing, that makes us geniuses, and have the feelings and the passionate, breakable hearts that make us human.

And if it takes a little rover who survived planetary storms and galactic adventures to bring those out in us, we don’t mind.

So when Oppy sent back his final message from over 33 million miles away, “my battery is low and it’s getting dark”, we sent ours back: “you’ve made us feel. And as the darkness descends, you’re not alone.”

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou
Photo by Snapwire on

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