The spirit of The Martian has struck a rousing chord with the American public: sending them to movie theaters in droves, gluing them to paperbacks, infusing new hunger for scientific pursuits, and even charging up NASA dreams of space exploration.

The film was pitched to execs as a “love letter to science,” and it is. It’s stirs within us dreams of how much we can achieve by learning and building upon our exciting expanse of scientific knowledge. But it also speaks to some other, more complicated emotions. What’s fueling Mark Whitney’s ingenuity is a driving, tenacious will to survive in the face of one of the most lonely circumstances a human could ever find themselves in.

Our planet, for all it’s troubles and harsh realities, is pretty kind to us. As long as our lungs are working okay, taking a breath seems like a sure thing. Space stories like The Martian put our reliance on our perfectly balanced air in perspective, and help us feel grateful that, for most of us, the stresses of our lives don’t involve second-to-second survival decisions. We’re also lucky we don’t have to nearly blow ourselves in an attempt to grow calories for sustenance.