Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.

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How Overwhelming Transforms Into Possible

It is often overwhelming when we think of what needs to be done to ensure all human beings are treated in dignity and rid of poverty. Overwhelming.

Overwhelming is like the word “impossible” to me. I try to avoid using it. When Ron Garan asked me to be part of his Fragile Oasis initiative, it confirmed that there are so many people, so many like minded individuals that wish to make a difference. That is how overwhelming transforms into possible.

As I post this, Ron is on his journey. A journey which I had the immense privilege of taking. In October 2009, I travelled on board the International Space Station. There were nine of us on board - three Russians, three Americans, one European (Belgium), another Canadian and myself—the cosmic clown. This mosaic of nationalities nourished me, as it always has. It spoke to me when I was a teenager, and it still does today.

The people on the International Space Station were light years away from my reality as an “entertainer,” yet they moved me, stimulated me and provoked me. They are scientists, pilots or in the military, and they all share the will to break new ground. They are space cowboys, modern-day explorers, pioneers and truly exceptional people. These ordinary people in an extraordinary line of work are curious, generous, respectful and concerned about humanity. They are genuine and strive to accomplish great things. They live in space for the good of the Earth. For our good. I found myself dreaming that if we could model the behavior of our planet’s inhabitants on the spirit that reigns aboard the International Space Station, our problems would disappear, or would be far fewer.

Space is their office. The ISS laboratory is complex and awe-inspiring. Like a child I kept asking a flurry of questions. Why this? Why that? And their answers were always generous. These people work hard and quickly. They must accomplish their mission-related tasks swiftly to have time to spare should something go wrong. In case of an unforeseen repair job, they have less time for their mission and for themselves. In spite of their many obligations, the crew always took time to help me out.

Sharing knowledge. Breaking geographic barriers. Seeing planet Earth, Gaïa, at its best, the closest paradise you can find. These are the postcards I took back from my journey.