Every now and then I wonder what does an astronaut see?
We have pictures, duh. Use the internet.
That’s not what I mean. When they are floating outside the space station, or space shuttle, or whatever, what do they see when they look straight down? What do they see when they look straight up? We see so many pictures of the Earth from the moon, but what do they see if they turn around so the Earth is behind them?
Infinite space, right? Infinite in every direction. Infinite down, infinite up, infinite forward and back, even infinite on the diagonal, if you could determine such a thing. Even though they see all the stars and planets without atmospheric interference, those things are still just dots of light. Everything is really, really far away.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams):
“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space…”
So here’s the thing about that. I feel like I am standing on the precipice on this New Years Day. I have infinity below me, and I can surrender to fall endlessly into the despair, anger, and bitterness that 2020 has inspired. Or, I can allow Earth to fill my vision, and focus on the the horribleness taking place below me, a terrible corruption of her beauty and joy, that provides fuel to the fire of my disappointment and despair.
Or…I can climb toward the beautiful unknown, throwing off the weight of bad feelings, and changing direction as new and unforeseen attractions present themselves. Though I may never reach the stars in the distance, I can exist enchanted by the beauty of the journey.
I want to be that person, the one who climbs toward the stars.
I know that my role in this life is to give people happiness and hope, to reflect on the wonders of the world and the great gifts of life, which are absolutely as true as the other, horrible ones. There are plenty of people who can tell you what is wrong in the world and make you feel guilty for it or devastated by it, whether you are actually involved or not. Collectively humanity is kind of a mess, but individually we can be spectacular–kind, generous, compassionate and appreciative–and use our talents to fill the world with hope and beauty. My gift to give is writing, and my purpose is to use that gift to make people feel better, give them a moment’s reprieve from their burdens, and hopefully, refresh their spirits.
That was the principle that guided me until I ran into debris that impeded my forward momentum and blocked my view of the stars. Now I know with a little effort I can just go around these obstacles and resume the joy-filled journey I am meant to be on.
Happy 2021! May your stars be bright and your obstacles few.