Friday night I saw Zero Dark Thirty. Warning: spoiler alert–I am going to talk about end the film. The last scene is Maya boarding an empty hanger plane as the only passenger—the pilot even comments that she must be an important person because she has the whole plane to herself. He then asks her where does she want to go (leaving Afghanistan)? The scene cuts to a closer view, and there are tears streaming down her face. The film ends with her crying in the plane. We don’t know where she is going.
I found myself wondering why might she be crying? Mostly I assumed it was because she had just completed an insurmountable task that had consumed her entire being and was horrifically difficult. Along the way to achieving her goal she appeared to have sacrificed any kind of normal civilian life, put herself in unimaginable inhumane situations, worked 100 hours a week for the majority of 12 years, and lost some of the few friends she had to terrorism. And then at the end of it, she had to identify a bloody corpse that had died a violent death. Who wouldn’t cry?
After the movie, at dinner I was eavesdropping (a horrible habit most of us who study humans and behavior can’t seem to stop ourselves from doing) on the table behind us. They had also been at the same movie. The woman of the couple was saying that Maya was crying because she had no where to go.
The narrative of the character implies Maya had no intimate relationship, in fact she barely had interpersonal relating of any sort. Her personality was on the crispier side of intense. She was even referred to within her agency as “a killer.”
Being single definitely has it’s pluses and minuses. It would have been much harder to be laser-focused on her career had she been maintaining outside relationships. Maya achieved massive professional success. There are definitely periods in life where it’s a bonus to be able to be selfish with one’s time. However, the woman at the other dinner table seemingly thought the cost was too high, because she had no “nest” to welcome her home at the end of a (metaphorical) long day.
Of course balance is generally the desired solution, but sometimes there are periods in life where it’s impossible—whether we’re in too much relationship(s) or not enough—how can we know we’re making conscious choices? Or at least the right choices for ourselves? One person’s right choice often looks different than someone else’s. And sometimes we need help to regain one’s footing.