Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Beginning of Wonder...

On January 25th 1985 I saw the Space Shuttle Discovery for the first time. On a three day mission launching the day before, the Shuttle flew over my childhood home on Vancouver Island in BC. I remember that only the second day was clear (clouds are a hazard of living near a temperate rainforest) and I patiently waited outside for the Flyby all by myself.

Since about the age of seven I have spent nights outside gazing at stars and other objects or phenomenon one might find in our skies. I often (and still do) feel somewhat insignificant while doing so, a small being on a tiny planet in the vastness of our universe. This day was no different for me and I wondered about all the things in the heavens that there was to know and discover.

When I saw the Space Shuttle Discovery come into view I was at first excited but I quickly became quite intoxicated with the idea of what I was seeing. There were people on that craft in orbit around our planet and we had put them there. Suddenly, for the first time in my life I felt truly significant. It dawned on me the great potential that we humans, myself included, actually had. It wasn't really the beginning of childhood wonder, but it certainly was the moment that I realized such wonder was justified. If I hadn't wanted to be an astronaut before that moment the dream was certainly set firmly in motion!

I felt the same way seeing the Space Shuttle Discovery again tonight, 24 years later. Obviously, now, I am more likely to find my way to space as a tourist rather than an astronaut but that reality does not dampen the dream that space conjures. This time the Discovery was trailed very closely by the International Space Station and seeing them both together was amazing. As a species we really can come together and do great and wonderful things.

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