I recently read an excellent book by Chris Hadfield appropriately titled, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Planet Earth. Hadfield spent 31 years with NASA, flying two shuttle missions and serving five months as commander of the International Space Station.
To garner waning public support for the space program, his son suggested he broadcast videos on social media of what daily life was like on the space station. Soon, countless science classes all around the world were tuning in to watch him perform simple tasks like brushing his teeth or doing laundry in zero gravity, as well as talk about science.
Hadfield was raised on a farm near Sarnia, Ontario, and writes that he decided to become an astronaut at an early age after watching the Apollo 11 Moon landing on TV. At that time, neither Canadians nor any other non-U.S. citizen were allowed into the Space Program.
In hope that one day the policy might change, he focused on math and science in school. He joined the Air Cadet Corps at 16 years old. He later acquired a degree in engineering, and upon graduation, enlisted in the Canadian Air Force where he worked extremely hard to become a test pilot.
On that happy day when NASA agreed to participate in the construction, launch and operation of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield wasn’t just first in line, he was, as the astronauts say, “good-to-go.”
Hadfield’s unswerving dedication to reach his goal of becoming an astronaut is certainly inspiring. Yet, for me, it was the lessons he shared about life along the way that I found most instructive. One such lesson was his advice to “embrace the training.” He suggests you better come to love “ground-time,” because that’s where you spend the majority of your time. If you’re happy only in space then you’re going to be miserable most days.
As tree workers, we, too, spend a great deal of (ground) time learning our trade. We spend time preparing for each job – gathering equipment, maintaining that equipment, on the road between jobsites, and once there, more time positioning ourselves to make that right cut. The amount of time we spend up in a tree may be small by comparison.
Hadfield adds that even if he had never piloted the shuttle nor spent a single minute in space, he would still consider all his education, his perspiration, and the sacrifices he and his family made as all worth it. It was the journey that helped him to become the man he is today.
His advice to “embrace the ground time” was good advice. It’s where we live most days. We might as well enjoy them.