An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

★★★★★ (5/5)

Favourite Excerpts

• the surrounded by islands sprinkled across the sea like delicate shards of shattered eggshells

• I recognized even as a 9-year-old that I had a lot of choices and my decisions mattered. What I did each day would determine the kind of person I’d become.

• Throughout all this I never felt that I’d be a failure in life if I didn’t get to space. Since the odds of becoming an astronaut were nonexistent, I knew it would be pretty silly to hang my sense of self-worth on it.images (1)

• One morning a strange thought occurs to me shortly after waking: the socks I am about to put on are the ones I’ll wear to leave Earth. That prospect feels real yet surreal, the way a particularly vivid dream does

• You have to accept that you’ll need to master a lot of skills that seem arcane, or that you might never even get to use, or both. And you can’t view any of it as a waste of time

• It’s never either-or, never enjoyment versus advancement, so long as you conceive of advancement in terms of learning rather than climbing to the next rung of the professional ladder. You are getting ahead if you learn, even if you wind up staying on the same rung

• In my experience, fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts

• Our training pushes us to develop a new set of instincts: instead of reacting to danger with a fight-or-flight adrenaline rush, we’re trained to respond unemotionally by immediately prioritizing threats and methodically seeking to defuse them

• In my next line of work, it wasn’t even optional. An astronaut who doesn’t sweat the small stuff is a dead astronaut

• he also disapproved of whining because he understood that it is contagious and destructive

• Whining is the antithesis of expeditionary behavior, which is all about rallying the troops around a common goal

• If it doesn’t matter for the next 30 seconds, then it doesn’t exist

• In a crisis, the “why” is irrelevant. I needed to accept where I found myself and prioritize what mattered right that minute

• The best thing we could do for ourselves was to let that reality dominate our mental landscape until seriousness of purpose met buoyant certainty: yes, we’re ready to do this thing.

• Of course, that kind of single-mindedness takes a village—other people have to pick up the slack when you’re unavailable, literally or figuratively. If you fail to recognize that fact and behave accordingly, you can count on creating exactly the kinds of distractions and conflicts you should be trying to avoid when you’re facing a major challenge

• People around you will let you know in no uncertain terms that your single-minded dedication bears a striking resemblance to pigheaded selfishness.

• The challenge was knowing if and when to assert it

• Which is in fact what it is: an outpost that humans have built, far from Earth. The International Space Station. It’s every science fiction book come true, every little kid’s dream realized: a large, capable, fully human creation orbiting up in the universe.

• It’s like being a newborn, this sudden sensitivity overload of noise, color, smells and gravity after months of quietly floating, encased in relative calm and isolation.

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