When a man looks at his wife and four (!) children, what he really sees is the black iron prison surrounding him. How does he break out? In the case of Utah dad Ken Sullivan, the answer is the same red planet that has inspired humanity throughout history. Mars!
Sullivan, a 38-year-old married father of four, is looking at about 40 more years of headaches and heartbreak and the crushing sense of having wasted his entire life raising more humans, like we need more of those on Earth. (We don't.)
What to do? In many cultures, the father simply walks away. But Utah has a strong family culture. And despite how much we'd all like to go down to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes and never come back, personal responsibility is seen as a positive force in our society. What many parents seek is a good excuse to split.
So this Utah dad did what so many others long to do: He signed up to go to Mars, forever, on a one-way trip. And now he's one of the finalists for the Mars One mission. He may actually go to a nearby planet that is still so far away that nobody will ever be able to bother him again—nobody but the other people on the Mars One expedition, but at least there will be some novelty, for the first year or so, before he realizes he has to spend his life with another set of people.
"I just hope the family will be able to forgive me down the road," Sullivan told the Salt Lake Tribune. "Hopefully there isn't too much hatred of my being selfish in pursuing a dream that isn't theirs."
Spoken like a guy who has signed up to leave the planet to get away from his wife and kids.
His wife says they'll probably get divorced before he flies away forever on a rocket ship. And if he doesn't make the final cut of 24 Earthlings for this upcoming journey to Mars? "I'm sure this won't be the last thing he wants to try."
There are many things we do to get away from our spouses and children. We develop hobbies that our families won't like, and we take jobs in distant places that require weeks or months away from home. Ken Sullivan already does that—he works as a medical-evacuation pilot in New Mexico. But New Mexico is still relatively close to the suburbs of Salt Lake City where his four children and wife live.
Even Iraq wasn't far enough away. Ken Sullivan went there as a military contractor after an earlier divorce, when his oldest kids were ages 3 and 4. He didn't bring his kids, obviously.
Now he's got another wife and another two kids, the youngest just six months old. Time to go to Mars!