Life on Mars
Updated: Mar 9, 2021
As our pandemic odometer rolls over the year mark, it’s bizarre to think about the new normal we have now. It feels as if we are living in an alternate reality. Perhaps life on another planet is watching us, thinking how bizarre and alien our lives look. It makes you almost want to go outside and hold up a poster to the sky with the words “I promise this isn’t normal - give us a minute!” just in case, someone is looking.
The irony in all of this is the news of NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover making its historic landing on an actual alien planet to search for evidence of life days ago.
Seeing those incredible images from over 30 million miles away was surreal. A truly singular moment. Over the last year, many of these distinct moments have come across our plate. It feels like as soon as we sit down and take a bite, someone else is stacking another plate of food on top. The easiest thing to do is spit it out because it is simply not appetizing. It’s hard to blame us, especially when we’ve been served so much that tasted so bad. We can only keep so much of it down. The danger is, when we spit out the undesirable bite or only swallow just a bit before moving on, we forget a meal that should be remembered. Sometimes we swallow the unappetizing anyway, savoring every flavor before we have to move on - for better or worse. This isn’t new, but it seems like the amount we are being served is as unprecedented as landing a rover on another planet to search for signs of ancient microbial life. For me, the taste of Mars made me remember a meal from last year with a similar, alien flavor.
In September of 2020, Pyxis’s Exero Vet production team traveled cautiously to Corvallis, Oregon, to film at the Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. There was nothing inherently foreign or alien about that, considering we had been there the previous year to film and found it to be a beautiful place. Traveling to film for Exero Vet during a pandemic had its own challenges. Still, we took every precaution and abided by all mandates and guidelines to film and travel safely. We arrived on September 7, Labor Day. As we disembarked the plane and retrieved our gear, it took only a look outside for us to realize that we were in the middle of a singular event that we had not fully anticipated—the wildfires. At the time, fires were burning up and down the coast, seemingly unchecked. We could smell it in the air through our masks, and there was ash already building up in the gutters.
We spent two weeks in Corvallis, and throughout most of our time there, it looked like we were walking on Mars ourselves. The pictures that circulated around the news were not exaggerated. At times you could see only a few hundred yards through the blood orange atmosphere. Our hotel filled up overnight with families and their pets fleeing the fires.
Remembering and sharing our experiences is vital. It has been since the beginning of time, and these times are no different. If we don’t want to keep being served so much negativity regularly, we must power through our own comfort. It seems simple to say “remember,” but the routine in our new normal is to try and forget, or at the very least try to ignore, to maintain our sanity. We all have our stories to tell. Write them down, talk about them. Share them. The more we document our own personal experiences, we may be pleasantly surprised at the results. One is our own catharsis, the other being possibly feeling far less alien on our own planet.