12th March, 2020
Sol 11: Life goes on
After yesterday’s news, it was not only hard to get some good sleep, but also difficult to spend the day without looking at our computers, hanging on to every email and piece of information we could find. We do have a bit of internet in the Station, but it’s limited, sometimes messy, and reserved in priority for the Comms window in the evening, to send all our critical reports to mission support. So we make do with what’s available: the few emails from friends and family on Earth, and a few articles on the internet. We’d never really even thought about looking at our emails outside of that comms window, and we actually felt refreshed to not be inundated by information from everywhere. Now, not only have two weeks of social isolation taken a toll on us, but we got closer to Earth only to see it hurt, sick and confused. We’re leaving in two days, and we know that we’re going to find Earth different than how we left it.
We don’t really know if we’re lucky to be here or not, when we know what’s out there. On the one hand we’re safe, and being disconnected from the world allows us to some distance to process everything rather than taking it all in the face. On the other hand, there’s so much we don’t know, can’t know easily, and the distance can easily become a stressor. Safety doesn’t matter as much as being close to your loved ones, and it’s especially hard to know that there is no walking away from the mission at hand.
One of the books that has been going around the Hab was Chris Hadfield’s fantastic “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”. In it, he explains that he isn’t afraid during missions, no matter the danger. He’s worked hard to make sure he could fix everything that could be fixed if something goes wrong, so it’s just procedure. We’re no astronauts, and don’t have that much training for a mission like this, but we knew what to expect, we were ready to accept that, and now that things aren’t going smoothly, we keep going. There’s little we can do, so we do that and wait until we can do more. The mission is nearing its close and we’re busy packing things up and finishing off what we started. Getting busy is an added bonus that helps us get our minds off things.
We move on with our day, and the routine goes well. In our free time, games, movies, as well as Blandine’s positive thinking and relaxation exercises do a tremendous job of cutting through the doom and gloom. In little time we’ll be back on Earth, with a lot to catch up on and a lot of plans to change. We’ve spent two weeks figuring things out in an unusual place. We can do it again.
Author: Clément Plagne, Crew Journalist