I just spent about the last half hour outside clearing snow from our place and the cars. This rather menial chore which was being undone about as fast as I was doing it made me realize how limited the scope of my life has become. In the past if I felt the first pang of cabin fever I would hop into Matt’s personal transport shuttle (the vanagon) and head for the hills. And while the vanagon relative to my residence was a step down in square footage it also happens to be a really fine air lock allowing me access to many, many more square miles of the unexplored.
Today, my life seems to be bound by two factors. First, this house, of its 1500 square feet I usually occupy about 1000. Amend that a little further the low elevation on the beams and sloping roof keep me from exploring the east and west sides of the house. Lets say 700 square feet.
Second, is the distance that I can go under my own power. My radius of travel used to be about 2,200 miles from its center where I lived. This radius has been reduced significantly in recent months. Today its about 5 miles if I’m lucky and have time to myself. Last September we moved the center of that circle from Gunnison up to Crested Butte which for the most part has been a good thing allowing me increased access to activities and resources I generally enjoy.
So while out scooping snow this morning it occurred to me that astronauts generally have far less access to these resources and much less freedom to move. An extended space voyage probably involves about as much cleaning and tidying as I currently engage in, however, significantly less dog hair and bodily fluids pick up. Astronauts have far less access to the out-side than I do, but generally have much more intellectually challenging tasks to keep them occupied while indoors.
I wonder if in this juxtaposition of lifestyles I can discover a better, healthier, and less mentally taxing compromise that may keep me sane over the long haul. I’ve been cooped up for about the average length of a ISS stay. Perhaps I can find some journals online or in publication which may aid me here. And if not I can always EVA downtown and have tea and cookies with Aral.