May 16, 2022

Station Eleven: The Virtue of Helping Even When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

** Spoiler Alert: This post consists of spoilers for episodes 1, 9, and 10 of Station Eleven **

When Patrick Somerville adjusted the unique Station Eleven for Television (on HBO Max), he pictured a post-apocalyptic world in which 99% of the population passed away of the influenza, and amongst the remaining 1%, there were three kinds of survivors: those who (metaphorically-speaking) brought a gun in their pocket, those who carried a harmonica in their pocket, and those who carried one of each (simply in case). Every encounter in between strangers would involve some careful sussing out: What do you have in your pockets?

Do not talk to complete strangers, our parents informed us, and if a complete stranger uses to take you someplace, do not go along. When the world is ending, worry of “complete stranger threat” might really get in the method of an even better piece of suggestions (queue Mr. Rogers): “Look for the helpers.”

In this “survivors world” where everyone is a stranger, how does a kid tell whos got a harmonica in their pocket?

Search for the Stage Jumpers

Under the (incorrect) assumption that Jeevan is a physician, these women have both “shanghaied” and recovered him, expecting his help in return when the children are due (which is, bizarrely, on the same night: the winter season solstice). The one physician present at this makeshift birth center, Terry, knows that she cant securely and all at once deliver all these infants herself (” Its a f ****** time bomb of pleasure!”). She needs backup, quickly.

Since the developers of this program are good human beings, they give us that twenty-years-later reunion scene in between Kirsten and Jeevan that our hearts required. That wordless, shocked embrace is invaluable, and the director lets us stick around with them for an excellent long period of time. Although Kirsten and Jeevan have actually each formed their own families in the stepping in years and will walk different paths, their hearts are unbreakably tethered to each other.

And so, regardless of his preliminary demonstrations of inexperience, he follows his caring, assisting instincts and becomes what those females need: “Dr. Chaudhary.” They all know hes devising, but when it comes to birth (simply as with passing away), existence matters more than training. He assists them through labor, holds their hands, tells them its fine, and captures infants– one paralyzed male in a ward loaded with females, bringing new life into a dead world..

Kirsten breaks the guidelines too, and accepts his aid. She intuitively trusts him, since she saw him leap the phase to assist her friend. With a childs fine-tuned radar for “looking for the helpers,” Kirsten senses some inflammation in Jeevan and pokes around with interest. Shes stunned to find that even though he went to assist, he has no special medical training. “But you were the first one in the theater to know,” she insists. “Or, just the very first one who stood,” Jeevan shrugs.

But his back-to-back options to be neighborly toward suffering strangers lands him in the unlikely position of Apocalypse Foster Parent. Jeevan does not present as classic “hero product,” however he reveals up and moves towards the problem, and thats enough.

Jeevan isnt the most articulate person or the most gifted, brave, or client. He can turn petty under stress, he can twist the knife in an argument, he suffers from panic attacks, and he somehow earned the unpromising youth label “Leavin Jeevan,” as later episodes expose.

Simply reveal up; the courage to be there suffices.

HBO Max.

When Kirsten states, “I was never terrified with you,” he confesses, “I was always frightened. And then I satisfied this girl. Said I d walk her house.

In a dark, congested Chicago theater, a cough breaks the silence. King Lear fumbles his lines, and teeters on stage. Amidst bored texters and nonchalant observers, one guy recognizes that the actor isnt acting. Hes having a cardiac arrest. Jeevan Chaudhary (Himesh Patel) leaves his seat, climbs awkwardly over other theatergoers, jumps the stage, and kneels down over the dying man. He requires a medical professional, distressed and at a loss. “I cant do this,” Jeevan confesses. “I dont understand how to.”.

The Courage to Bear Witness to Death is the Job.

When Jeevan broke through that glass box of individualism– those invisible borders of not-my-problem– he thought he was doing something small, but he ended up saving Kirstens life.

Take a look at my intro to the series here. And stay tuned for the next post on the second of Station Elevens surprises.

Kirsten needs to decide whether or not to accept Jeevans invitation to accompany him to his brothers home (together with 6 carts of groceries), where they will barricade the door and wait out the carnage. Jeevan refuses to require her (” Thats kidnapping, I think”), however understanding her childish requirement for parental authorization to do something so undoubtedly against the rules, he fibs for her. He comprises some story about how her parents texted him and said it was great, and that they know his sibling Frank from some work thing, so its alright. Kirsten sees right through his story, however she also sees that it originates from a desperate tenderness– she sees the harmonica poking out of his pocket. She trusts him and his lovingly-meant lie, therefore she makes it through.

It was simply what Kirsten required to be able to make it through, and to discover her method to the next stranger with a harmonica in their pocket. In the backstage of a Chicago theater, on a crowded pathway, on a noisy El, and in an empty grocery shop parking lot, Jeevan and Kirsten formed what author John Koenig calls a “covalent bond”:.

Thats Station Elevens opening scene: a good-hearted person who does not understand what the heck hes doing shows up anyway: no plan, simply pure concern. Jeevan lacks the skills and qualifications of a doctor, however he has the right impulses. He does not talk himself out of assisting, like many of us are prone to do: Maybe its not as bad as it looks.

The Ways People Find to Make Each Other Safe Again.

And there it is– the identity and vocation which always avoided him “pre-pan” is dropped into his lap like the babies he was capturing just hours before. The impulse that drew him on phase towards a passing away man, that focused his eyes on a vulnerable kid, that made him take an awkward seat between the legs of groaning mothers-to-be– that was his true self all along.

HBO Max.

When we see Jeevan twenty years later, he is not only wed to Lara (whose child he assisted deliver), but they have two more kids of their own, and reside on a little island together. Hes known by all those around as “the doctor.” No longer aimless, nervous, and whiny, the settled peacefulness on his face speaks volumes. Still no qualifications, of course, but he has actually ended up being beneficial, skilled, and needed to the folks in the surrounding area. In the programs last episode, we enjoy him skillfully tend to a burn victim and carefully grant permission to a passing away woman to “let go,” whispering, “Youre not alone.” When she was just 8, he finally has the self-confidence in his calling that Kirsten had in hers.

But he ended up conserving Kirstens life when Jeevan broke through that glass box of individualism– those unnoticeable borders of not-my-problem– he believed he was doing something little. As the programs writer Patrick Somerville puts it, it doesnt take a global pandemic for someones world to end. A person can lose their universe with one awful telephone call throughout a supper party, an unlucky misstep, a betrayal, a mishap, or a diagnosis– a personal apocalypse. Opportunities for forming “covalent bonds”– whether its saving somebodys world or just sitting next to them as it burns– surround us all the time.

While Jeevan has no experience delivering infants, he does have experience with death. “My sibling passed away right in front of me,” he tells Terry. “Then youre currently qualified,” she assures him as she passes him a bottle of liquor. “The nerve to bear witness to death is the job. The courage to be there.” “I dont want any person else to pass away,” Jeevan admits. “Or get hurt. Or be in discomfort.”.

While Jeevan didnt (and couldnt have) saved that dying stars life, hes instantly given another opportunity to help a stranger. Off in the wings of the phase, a little costumed lady named Kirsten (Matilda Lawler) just saw her beloved mentor and buddy pass away. The adult “wrangler” in charge of her is MIA, and her parents are inaccessible. On a freezing city night, surrounded by complete strangers and geared up with bit more than a dying mobile phone, a winter coat, and a knapsack with coloring books and comics, Kirsten is stranded. Breaking every rule that tacitly exists in between adult male strangers and innocent little girls, Jeevan presents himself to Kirsten and uses to stroll her to the El Train, and accompany her house..

This doesnt require a degree. However it does require a willingness to be absorbed and share somebodys suffering; to appear and bear witness to pain even if you cant alleviate it; to hold somebodys hand, to hold their gaze, and to let them know theyre not alone. Thats one of the myriad significances included in the Cross: that God doesnt belittle our suffering or look the other method. Hes the very first one to know were in problem; He jumps the stage for us; He strolls us home..

Opportunities for forming “covalent bonds”– whether its saving someones world or simply sitting beside them as it burns– surround all of us the time.

As author Elizabeth Goudge puts it, “Most of us tend to belittle all suffering other than our own” due to the fact that were afraid. For whatever reason, Jeevans desire to help is more powerful than his worry. He shows up empty-handed.

HBO Max.

From covalence, literally “shared strength.”.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

Recovery doesnt need a degree. It does need a determination to be sucked in and share somebodys suffering; to show up and bear witness to discomfort even if you cant ease it; to hold somebodys hand, to hold their look, and to let them know theyre not alone.

Forming Covalent Bonds with Strangers.

If not for Jeevans intervention, Kirsten would no doubt have actually died from the influenza that forms this storys scary background (and which our main characters find out about through a fortuitous phone call while riding the El). Jeevan just implied to stroll Kirsten house; thats all he signed up for. Because the developers of this program are good human beings, they offer us that twenty-years-later reunion scene in between Kirsten and Jeevan that our hearts needed. In the backstage of a Chicago theater, on a congested sidewalk, on a loud El, and in an empty grocery shop parking lot, Jeevan and Kirsten formed what author John Koenig calls a “covalent bond”:.

If not for Jeevans intervention, Kirsten would no doubt have actually passed away from the influenza that forms this storys horrifying backdrop (and which our main characters find out about through a fortuitous call while riding the El). Jeevan just suggested to walk Kirsten house; thats all he signed up for. When she cant reach her parents or get inside of her house, when the only other grownup who cared about her just passed away of a heart attack– and in light of their new understanding that everyone is passing away and infectious– the stranger-become-neighbor has to take on an even harder role: functional dad..

Station Eleven, for all of its unfortunate and frightening minutes, was developed to highlight “the moments of repair work and recovery, and the methods people find to make each other safe once again” (Patrick Somerville). According to Catholic priest and author Henri Nouwen, we are all contacted us to be therapists; we cant leave that task exclusively to the credentialed professionals. “Healing is the humble however also very requiring task of creating and using a friendly empty space where strangers can assess [or just “sit in”] their discomfort and suffering without worry.”.

Almost a year post-pandemic, Jeevan and Kirsten are residing in a remote cabin on the other side of Lake Michigan. Through a series of shared mistakes and bad luck, they get separated from each other. Impaired by a wolf and unconscious, Jeevan is selected up by a motorcycling complete stranger named Lara (Tattiawna Jones). She brings him to a former department shop populated by over a dozen pregnant women, unaware that by nabbing him shes leaving a vulnerable little woman all alone. Days later on, Jeevan wakes up in bed, hooked to an IV, disoriented, horrified, and heartbroken. By the time Lara goes back to look for Kirsten, shes long gone. Jeevan is encouraged hes failed her.

Being a fan of Jesus means picking up your cross by assisting someone else shoulder theirs. Its all right to come empty-handed, to confess like Jeevan, “I cant do this.

Get Sucked in and Share the Suffering.