One day when I was station manager at the South Pole station, I volunteered to help out the heavy equipment mechanic. One of the great things about being station manager you got to experience a lot of different professions by helping your staff.
That day, we were scheduled to go out to the bone yard, about a mile away from station where some 953B caterpillar tractors were being stored. We were to pull the axles out so the tractors could be towed in for maintenance. It happened to be -93 degrees Fahrenheit that day and equipment is not allowed outside in temperatures colder than -85. So I decided to load up a sled with all the tools we’d need and pull it a one mile out to the bone yard to do the job.
Wearing nearly 35 pounds of cold weather gear, I pulled the sled out to the tractor through the darkness. (It is dark 24 hours a day in the South Pole during winter.) When I got to the tractor, I started to remove the axle by first loosening several massive bolts. Next, I took a sledgehammer and began to beat on the axle, trying to get it to break free from the grease that had bound the axle in place by freezing solid.
All of the sudden I stopped, looked up from the mist created from the extreme cold, was totally shocked at the scene in the sky above. Here I was at the bottom of the earth, 10,000 feet in altitude in the dead of winter, with one of Earth’s most incredible view of the stars. I thought to myself, this doesn’t get any cooler and I owe God so much gratitude!
What you are going through now in isolating yourself during this pandemic is not a terrifying thing. It is not “unprecedented,” and there is no reason to be scared, worried or confused. It is actually not a bad situation at all, but rather a great opportunity to take a break, to help someone out, or learn how to cope without some things we take for granted in life.
Your well-being during this coronavirus saga will be tied directly to how you allow your attitude to control you. If you focus on the positive aspects, you will leave this pandemic with pleasant memories.
When I was in 6th grade and living in Washington State, Mount Saint Helens erupted, leaving us stranded because of the volcanic ash fallout. As a child we were not concerned with the stock market or the impact this had on travel; it was simply something different and a sort of an adventure. To this day, looking back on those days after the eruption, I realize all the good things that came from the fallout, which included the long hours of labor cleaning the ash out of our land, taking care of the animals, and the isolation that came from the suddenly hazardous environment. These were all things I saw as benefits.
If you’re having trouble maintaining a positive attitude during this Covid-19 isolation, I highly recommend getting online and talking about good things. Avoid negative discussions; everything that is said must have a positive focus. If you continue the discussions with a positive focus, such positivity will grow – and you’ll pass it on to other people and when this ordeal is over, you’ll be left with pleasant memories of your time in isolation!
By Mike Masterman, President & CEO, Extreme Endeavors
Mike Masterman spent 28 months isolated in Antarctica, including two winters at the South Pole. He is writing this blog during the coronavirus pandemic to share the strategies and suggestions he learned during his time in the remoteness of the Antarctic.