Limits

Airlock seal: Active 14.1 psi

Water reclamation system: Functional (carbon filter replacement in 13 sols)

When you’re in a place like Mars, it’s only a matter of time when things begin to fail. Life isn’t as easy as it is back home, like trekking down the street to your local home improvement store when a valve ruptures, or heading to the super market coming back from EVA to pick up a gallon of milk for the crew.

Systems fail.

Plans fail.

People fail.

As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.” There are many lessons one learns on a strange, alien planet, that can fit with those back home (it may actually be easier). The ultimate test a person can place on himself, however, is not how well or how long a system can last without failure, but whether one is prepared to overcome the obstacle and resolve the issue when failure is experienced. As I mentioned before, systems WILL fail. It’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.”

One of the most difficult obstacles I have had to overcome on this mission is, frankly, myself. Regardless of how well you think you know yourself, it isn’t until you are voluntarily locked away on a volcano without a McDonalds or Bed Bath & Beyond for miles that you begin to truly get into the weeds of your inner working, realize what is/isn’t important to you, and figure out new/different ways of approaching things or people. If there’s something I have really taken from all of what’s around me, I would say it’s the opportunity to learn about how people respond to certain stimulants and situations, what is the best way for working or resolving that either by yourself or with other people, and how to improve on it in the future. For example, can one know how to, or prepare how to handle a situation when taking measurements in a lava tube with zero visibility and broken radio communications, stuck in a sweaty spacesuit while under a time crunch with your tummy about to release a full on hungry strike?……..I thought so. It’s unique, sure, but it’s one example of many similar situations faced on this mission, and we will still face more throughout the rest of it.

You take advice for what it’s worth, but I love words of wisdom from The Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenagger. You can go about your daily life, whether on Earth or on Mars, living under the possibility of failure. Is that okay? As the Terminator states, “You can’t be afraid to fail.” We all make mistakes, some have a minuscule impact, others life-changing. The resiliency, tenacity, and commitment to not just learn why it happened, but also, to learn what can be done to improve the next time is the main idea I’m talking about here. As a kid growing up playing baseball, I was told hundreds of times to, “Keep your eye on the ball.” I didn’t listen well as a kid, which was obvious when I hovered over home plate as I felt the breeze of a fastball blow right by me. Some of those strikeouts gave me a chance to take a nice walk back to the dugout, others made me regret coming to practice the next day. Regardless of the potential circumstances I could face, I strove to improve every day, even when I knew the stakes were high.

You’re gonna have to step up to the plate again sometime. You’ll strikeout some more, and your frustration will continue to mount immediately after. It’s only a matter of time, however, when you’ll be ready to make contact and drive in the game-winning run. It just takes one time, a monumental swing of the bat, to swipe away the past that sends you streaking around the bases to greatness.

Nothing in this world is perfect. Everyone and everything makes mistakes. Everyone and everything has limitations, boundaries, and handicaps. You will win at times. You will lose lots of times as well; just be sure you’re prepared for it. We all can be better, do better. But we will face many times when we fall short. Just be ready to fail, expect it, but never back down from it.

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