It is my heartfelt desire that the more we realise we are not the centre of creation, the more modest we will become as a species, setting aside our inflated egos and resolving the problems we face on this speck of stardust we call earth.
Here’s an updated version of an article I wrote on my Dutch blog at the time.
Dream it and make it happen
As a young boy Chris Hadfield dreamed of going to space. But the chances of that actually happening were virtually non-existent, especially for a Canadian in the early seventies of the 20th century. He ended up going into space several times.
He kept his dream alive while he went about his daily life. The Universe created the right opportunities, allowing him to gradually materialise his vision into reality.
Which road do you choose?
Chris Hadfield’s third and final space trip is arguably his finest. He stayed in the ISS for 5 months, even serving as the station’s commander for 2 months. But it would also be his last space mission. And he knew that very well.
What would go through your mind if you were up there? You could feel deeply sad that you have to leave and will never see that breathtaking view of our blue planet again. Or you could feel very grateful for having lived a truly unique experience.
The same situation, but two completely contrasting feelings that make a world of difference. The first choice is probably the fastest route to depression, alcohol abuse and insanity. The second choice however makes you one of the happiest people on earth, and an inspiration to many others.
Chris Hadfield seems to have chosen this second option by the way: “Hard to express all of my emotions, but mostly gratitude.” (source)
Living in the moment
The inspiration for another lesson we can learn from astronauts came to me when I saw this picture. The astronauts are ready in their Soyuz capsule, a claustrophobic tight little space. A can of sardines that will fall through earth’s atmosphere like a fiery ball.
How do you stay calm in a situation like that? Wouldn’t you be constantly worried about everything that could go wrong? Astronauts are trained to live in the moment. Of course they are always alert, and somewhere in the back of their mind lies everything they’ve learned about emergencies. But that knowledge is dormant.
They live in the here and now, because that’s when they’re at their best! It makes no sense to worry about what could go wrong. On the contrary, it’s counter-productive and, in an environment like that, quite possibly dangerous.
I wonder if NASA would be willing to let us take that particular part of the astronaut training. Probably not. So for us, earth-bound mortals, it’ll simply have to be a beautiful lesson in the importance of living in the moment, without worrying needlessly about the past or the future.
Image credit: NASA & Chris Hadfield