Possibility and Wonder
I used to love Space. When I was about 8 years old, my cousins and I started a Space Club - the J.A.P.S. Club: membership, three. Headquarters: Swarthmore Drive. Satellite office: Avocado Place. Intergalactic voyages originated in my closet, where the inside door had been modified with construction paper control panels, and the landing module air lock delineated by a large pink blanket. We had a Space Journal - complete with full accounts of our explorations, visits to alien planets, and illustrations of our new extraterrestrial friends. When the first Space Shuttle Columbia mission took off in 1981, we were on board. Really - the newspaper clippings were right there in The Space Journal - the Liquid Paper® clumsily obliterating the names of the astronauts throughout the headline story, our names in blue ink irreverently scrawled in their place. I read about Black Holes, knew all nine planets, their moons, order from the sun, their color, characteristics ... far beyond what I knew, I wondered. A lot. Possibilities were just that - possible. As narrow as my tangible experience was, the reality outside it was constrained only by my imagination.
People have asked me about my New Year's Resolutions - if I make them, what they are, and (this morning, January 4th) if I've broken them yet. I seemingly make resolutions every day. All year. Maybe that means I'm forever breaking them - but each day is an opportunity to pause, consider, and develop new intentions - perhaps based on what came before, but also for the possibility that lies ahead. 2014 was simultaneously ordinary and surreal. Professionally, I had limitless flexibility with a gift of time that very few experience until retirement. Loosely translated, I was unemployed. beachradish images® was wildly successful as a result. We found Milo. I walked the dogs on the beach every morning. I planted a vegetable garden. I started taking cello lessons. I read books. I cooked. A lot. I stopped taking cello lessons. I wrote. I learned to surf. I met our neighbors. Our front door was, literally, always open. And - fantastically - when one leaves the door open, people (and their dogs) stop in. I spent a lot of time thinking about "what really matters", and realized (again) that being paid to do what you love is a luxury. And rare. That sometimes it's about doing the things at which you excel, in order to do those things at which you'd like to become better. And being open to the possibility that you can make a difference, regardless of where you are.
Over the course of the past three decades, my attention for the wonder of space has waned - in time with, and proportional to, the trajectory of life and career. I'm not sure when I stopped looking up at the night sky, but I did - its possibilities less relevant, its wonder more remote. In the interim, our people has a permanently manned international space station, demoted Pluto from "planet" to "icy body" status, successfully landed on Mars - twice (India at a fraction of the US cost - and on the first try), and on a comet orbiting Jupiter - from a vessel launched 10 years ago. Last week, in a post-Christmas fugue state, and at my better half's insistence, I found myself in the theatre watching "Interstellar". Having no particular penchant for Anne Hathaway or Matthew McConaughey, expectations were low (the promise of movie theatre popcorn mixed with peanut M&M's can trump almost anything). And there it was - old & familiar: black holes, worm holes, intergalactic space travel, extraterrestrial life, mixed with new ideas: tesseracts, fifth dimensions, and singularities. The cinematography was incredible. Almost as good as the inside of a closet, construction paper control panels, and pink blanket air lock.
Also last week, the International Space Station made its orbit in such a way that it could be seen above our San Diego skies for anywhere from one to five minutes after sunset. Jim was still the first to go out and look, but when he called, I went running. There it was, just above the horizon, moving in a counterclockwise arc ... a quickly moving 220 foot star. A visual connection between wonder and possibility. Maybe my imagination needed a jump-start ... constructed images tangibly presented - a seemingly impossible scenario, presented as its theoretical opposite. In a big data-driven world where we seem to be ever more preoccupied with the here and now, here was an invitation to travel back in time - my time - and re-consider a world unconstrained by what I think I know, to be open to its possibility, and most of all - to wonder (and believe) that the possibilities exist.
May your 2015 be filled with wonder and possibility. I'm looking forward to sharing mine with you!