Thursday, 17 November 2011

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 .....blast off

There’s this guy coming to speak at Queen’s tonight. Queen’s has a lot of people come and speak, a lot of alumni who they can pull from to show how successful they are and the great students they graduate.

Before I get to what this blog is about, I’ve had the privilege to work with and learn from a number of Queen’s students who might never come back to their campus to speak, but who are changing and influencing their community right where they are. This is an amazing testament to the other alumni around the world, and those of us not Queen’s grads. It’s the idea of these everyday ordinary people using their education and opportunity to change their communities, our world for the better.

So back to the reason for the post. The guy coming to speak at Queen’s tonight is an astronaut. Dr. Drew Feustel. I have night class so can’t go, but would love to. Ever since I can remember, my mom would always get us to watch the different space shuttle lift offs'. I think I get some of my passion for exploration and dreaming big from my Mom.

I remember watching these men, mostly men until we saw Roberta Bondar go to space, get into their suits and walk towards the space shuttle. I remember seeing them wave to the camera and then get into the space shuttle. I remember watching the shuttle break away from those bridges that the astronauts walked on just before. I remember hearing the news team and those in the launch area speak those famous words “we are go….in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1”…..

There is something about the idea of going to space. There is something about knowing that in eight and a half seconds you can break the orbit of the earth.  John Gillespie Magee wrote the following poem that so eloquently expresses my thoughts when it comes to space.

"High Flight"

 Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
 I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air....

 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
 And, while with silent lifting mind I have trod
 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
 - Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I wonder when you are up there, what you would think of. I wonder when you look through the small window of the shuttle and see earth below and the moon beside what goes through your mind. The idea of reflection about how small we really are. The questions about how we shall care for the earth, our home. Consideration of what matters, truly.  I wonder what changes while you are up there looking out at the vast mystery we call the universe. I think about exploration and innovation and if it really does tell us something, or if it shows us that we still have so much more to learn.

I sometimes dream of going to space, and then I realize that I again would be reminded of all that I don’t know and would come back (hopefully) with a passion and hunger to be about learning and exploration and innovation all of my days.

I leave this clip because I feel that it best represents all that which is important. I can’t help be consider how quickly perspective and value and importance change, and how changing moments remind us what matters.

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