Death on Mars
Last night was a very tough evening after receiving some very tragic
personal news and the possible death of loved ones. This is my third
mission at MDRS and I have faced many physical challenges living in
analog isolation and confinement but last night was a totally
different experience … a real tough psychological challenge to face
not only as a crew member but also as the Commander.
Death is a hard subject.
Commandership is still tougher whether death occurs in front of you or
many millions of miles away on Mars. The sense of overwhelming
hopelessness to control the situation envelops you and for an instant
you understand what it is to be human, to be able to feel human… how
to be human under stressful conditions and to continue to be able to
lead a team. No amount of training, nor skills or knowledge can
prepare you for such emotions. Life throwing you curve balls and you
need to make a choice. Pick up the balls and run again or drop them
and walk away.
Crying is an essential human emotion. We cry in pain, we cry in joy.
I am not afraid to admit I cried last night. I cried a lot. I cried
in front of the crew team. I could not stop crying because the loss
and the pain was too deep. Should I have not cried? Should I have not
cried in front of the crew team? Should I have hidden my loss, my
pain, my sadness? What is the right or wrong thing to do? I was just
Commandership is not just about being a strong, courageous leader, or
pretending to be some Superhero model image to the crew team. One
thing I do know is that death is a tough subject to experience on
Earth and especially on Mars. Death is a subject humans never really
want to bring into their consciousness or talk about until it hits you
in the face!
The question I ask myself is there a difference in how men and women
express their grief and sadness? Is it wrong to show your grief or to
cry like a child in front of the crew team? What is the right thing to
do when you are faced with such intensity of sadness and pain and the
sense of hopelessness suffocating your every breath and thought for
that moment in time…you move on…right?
One truth I did really discover from this experience is the strength
of this crew. They have shown me that we are not only a team of
colleagues and professionals working together in this mission but we
are also discovering our friendship and learning to trust and respect
one another. I think that the test of true bonding of any team is how
they react to situations like this. It is the compassion, caring and
kindness that we all have inside of us. That was the REAL strength of
this crew. It is the real human condition, the authenticity and the
uniqueness of be human being that really matters…whether we live on
Earth or on Mars.
I dedicate this Commander’s Report to my crew team. Your collective
kindness and compassion I will always remember for the rest of my
life. Now starts the healing and letting go….Ad Astra!
Life is a Gift and we must cherish it.