Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earthis something to read. Self-reflective and detailed, Hadfield offers a glimpse into what it really means to be an astronaut. If the only thing you really enjoyed was whipping around Earth in a spaceship, you”d hate being an astronaut. You train for a few years, minimum, before you’re even assigned to a space mission. You practice tricky, repetitive tasks as well as highly challenging ones to the point of exhaustion, and you’re away from home more than half the time.(37)
Intellectually, I’d known I was venturing out into space yet still the sight of it shocked me, profoundly, In a spacesuit, you’re not aware of taste, smell, touch. the only sounds your hear are your own breathing and, through the headset, disembodied voices. You’re in a self-contained bubble, cut off, then you look up from your task and the universe rudely slaps you in the face, It’s overpowering, visually, and no other senses warn you that you’re about to be attacked by the raw beauty. (89-90)Oh, and another thing about Colonel Hadfield: he certainly knows his hockey.
What would it mean to leave this planet?Not just in orbit or for a period of months, but somewhere far away to not return for years or not at all?
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said that the biggest challenge of a trip to Mars would be coping with the isolation. “Within a month or so you won’t be able to have a real-time conversation ever again with Earth, the delay will be so long…So that crew within weeks will become Martians psychologically. They will no longer be of Earth.” “How do you keep your crew from going crazy?” We define our sense of self through a context. What is the context of no longer being here?
I must admit to feeling pain and distress in regards to my Toronto Maple Leafs. They didn’t just lose; they had a collapse. Ahead by two goals with 90 seconds left, the Leafs surrendered twice and another in overtime…all of this after I had received congratulatory texts with minutes to go – why was I receiving congratulatory texts? – after the Leafs were on the verge of their own great comeback. I watched the customary end-of-game handshakes with bitterness and resentment. I had to counter the vitriol from hyper-active friends, impaired supporters of the Canucks, Canadiens and Bruins. I had nightmares. I couldn’t sleep.A dreadful malaise descended. I couldn’t write anything. The only idea I had was a lengthy story on the ennui of a Leafs fan. I was lost in those final minutes, reviewing each mistake, thinking how it might have – should have – been. I knew I had to focus on the things that mattered, the real problems of the world. And yet it persisted. After being out of the playoffs for nine years – not winning the cup since 1967 – the Leafs should have won. It was as simple as that. It hung like a cloud, threatening and oppressive. The sports headlines milked the angst. The players were interviewed as they cleaned out their lockers. The reporters poked and prodded: “How does it feel to fail?” The players stared back and gave their answers. They acknowledged the pain, the despair. They said that they had learned and wanted to make it right. I watched a few highlights after that. And Canadian superstar-astronaut Chris Hadfield. Then I reflected on an answer from James van Reimsdyk: “We were picked to finish 14th (at the) start of the season. We made the playoffs and pushed a really good team right to the brink. Obviously it’s a step in the right direction.” “But now we got to come back and do it all again next year.”
I was good with that. I thought about writing a treatment for a documentary on the upcoming season, from every point of view, minute to minute, cinema verite of the magnificent climb back. Yes, that was something. I even had a title Go Leafs. That really could work.