When Ethan went to Edge of Extinction, he said that he would do well there because he had already been to the literal edge of extinction with cancer. However, this makes me think of what Tyson said about Tony and the shark: “The key to a shark fight is to get the shark on land.” Natural selection has made the shark an extremely effective predator in saltwater, but that’s almost no help once it’s out of its element. The same could easily be true of Ethan.
This reminds me of military veterans who have been in horrific firefights and made difficult decisions under that intense stress, yet can’t seem to handle the stress of office politics or family life. It seems so baffling when they break down, because most people who aren’t military veterans can’t imagine how a teenage daughter or angling for a promotion could possibly be more stressful than machine gun fire. But the veterans are sharks on land. Stress is not interchangeable.
This can be very frustrating for the person who breaks down, because often he can’t even recognize how stressed he is, since his stress seems as silly to him as it does to the people around him. Yet recognizing anxiety, absorbing it, compartmentalizing it, and moving forward seems very important for many areas of life. We can rarely hide from this for long.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my dad once about the novel The Sea Wolf by Jack London. In that novel, a physically weak academic is forced to survive on a cutthroat seal-hunting ship. The captain of the ship is both physically brutal and a mental genius, and my dad insisted that the captain would never feel intimidated in the academic’s world, but I disagreed.
By the way, what was with Rob waking up Adam by tickling him with a leaf? Everyone acted like it was just a funny prank, but Rob is clearly using small actions like this to psychologically dominate the other players.