If you noticed that my blog title is a line from 2001: A Space Odyssey,
chances are you’re probably a sci-fi fan, movie trivia buff, or a space
fan. Or maybe you just have a really good memory. Anyhoo, it doesn’t
really matter since I’m not talking about movies or 2001 or if you can
recall what you had for lunch on Tuesday six weeks ago.
I’m talking about outer space today. After a few weeks of following
@flyingjenny on Twitter, I’ve become reacquainted with that
bigger-than-life world that is outer space and the magic that was
“maybe one day I can go to space” that all children seem to have at one
point in life.
I know I did. I don’t know when it started, but I’d guess it was when I
was about 5 and used to stare up at the night sky while driving home in
the evening. I loved to look at the moon and the stars and was
frequently disappointed when we arrived home and it was time to go in
to bed. I wished on stars ALL THE TIME, and one wish (for a dog) was
actually granted. I used to imagine the twinkling of those stars was
really a message to me, blinking and flashing in a secret code,
whispering to me how great my life could be and all of the wonderful
things that were in store for me.
My mother was very imaginative and when my brother and I were younger, we
were often treated to a game of make-believe play acting. We loved
pretending and sometimes our acting seemed real enough that if we lived
in CS Lewis’ books, we definitely would have made it through the
My mom read to us for hours on end, introducing us to The Hobbit and
classics by Austen when we were still not of school age. She’d give us
little buttons or other trinkets to leave on the windowsill for a
magical princess who rode on the back of birds. In exchange for our
little gifts, she’d leave a nickel or dime. It was wondrous!
Now toss in some good churching: the kind that makes God seem as big as
eternity and just as wonderful and bright as those tiny twinkling
stars, send us off to school to learn about the world around us, and
you have two kids who believe anything is possible in the great big
But back to outer space. I mentioned following @flyingjenny. (If you don’t,
you should!) She posed the question: “What “engages” you and keeps you
interested in space?” I knew what it was for me: it was the magic of
kinderhood that keeps me interested in space: it’s still a great big
old mystery, filled with all the exciting possibilities one could ever
imagine. My reply to her: “The magic that was space as a child!
Wondering if someday *I* could look down at earth from the stars! Still
feel that way. =)”
Why that is was her response, and what got me thinking today. Why is it
some of us grown-ups are still enchanted by space and others could care
less? When I heard NASA would be stopping the shuttle program, I felt
incredibly sad! It was my parent’s generation who experienced the first
shuttle missions, the first landing on the moon, the first tragedies of
space travel. It was my generation that experienced more shuttle
missions, the heartache that was the Challenger and Columbia. I
remember the space station news and all of the launches into space for
more exploration, and that pesky Hubble telescope that cost SO MUCH
When I was about 10 or 11, I saw the movie Space Camp. Oh, how I wanted to
go to space and look down upon my planet! I wanted to fly to the moon
and back, and zoom to stars and distant galaxies. When I was 20, I
spent my evenings in Haiti gazing up at the sky, a sky so clear that
‘shooting stars’ flew overhead like ducks on a cold winter day and you
could see satellites cross the sky.
But wait! I can’t forget the space movies and television shows! The
encounters had by Kirk and Spock! The evil empire of Darth Vader and
the dashing Han Solo! What about space is there for a girl not to love!?
I don’t know what the future holds for space exploration (heavens, many
will say it isn’t important enough because we can’t take care of our
issues here on our own planet, much less outer space). I don’t know if
the economy will bounce back and there will yet again be money for NASA
to blast off into the undiscovered vastness of space. I doubt I’ll ever
be in a space shuttle or on a space mission, or be a space tourist
before I die. Heck, the one time I wanted to see the shuttle take off
when we lived in Florida it was canceled. Some hurricane or rain storm
or something. So I may not even hear the thunder that is the rocket
booster thingamajigs, and feel the powerful shaking of the land as the
shuttle takes off.
But I can tell my children about space, the planets, the possibilities of
places far beyond human knowledge. I can tell them that Pluto is still
a planet in my book, and maybe someday there will be hundreds more
planets found and named. Maybe one day they will fly up to the stars
and gaze down upon planet Earth.
One thing has to be certain: there isn’t a human who was or is or will be
alive who hasn’t at some point stopped and stared up, wondering what is
up there, what is out there, what kind of greatness would it be to *be*
Oh, for all my love of space and fantasy, I still can’t figure out the
constellations. They NEVER look to me like the shapes they’re supposed
to be. =)
What about you? What makes you a space lover either as a kid or an adult!?