I can date my life by where I was in various Shuttle launches. The wonder with which they were greeted in my childhood has chilled somewhat for the generation that has seen so many technological advances. I hear many people wonder about the importance of the Space Program when there are so many financial needs right here on earth. I believe that space exploration is a wonderful teacher. Many of our most significant innovations have evolved out of the space program. You might not know…those ubiquitous sticky notes that are used everywhere…are the result of a space program experiment. In many ways, the “space program” reaches into our every day, ordinary space. Even our cellular technology owes a vote of thanks to the Space Effort.
Atlantis has launched. And it called to mind COLUMBIA and how it fell from the sky in 2003. I am going to share a piece from LEAN FORWARD INTO YOUR LIFE, from the Curiosity Takes Courage chapter.
I remember when the spacecraft fell from the sky to Texas.
I weep that we Americans seem to be defined more by what we have colelctively lost than by what we hold as a whole. How is it we can call ourselves champions? On this day I weep for our American star which fell from the Texas sky. (They say everything is bigger there, I wonder if their grief is larger than mine?) I remember another loss of this sort from my childhood. I remember feeling the fear of throwing lives into the sky and wondering if they could possibly find their way home. How these decades of progress have jaded my wonderment and my sense of risk.
Perhpas my loss imapirs my vision. There is a spark of hopefulness in this tragedy. It is the true spirit of a champion which allows us to continue to explore, after such collective loss we still wish to be pathfinders We still long to answer questions and blaze a new way of seeing. We still reach nonpartisan hands across borders and invite, “Let us be bigger together than we are alone.”
We are victors in this: that tomorrow we will reach again for the stars and be sobered by this loss. In that reach for a higher excellence we will ask bigger questions and work, like champions, for the discovery of the answer.
All good wishes and prayers travel with this shuttle as it carries out its mission. And good on all of us for the having the courage to continue to explore and discover.