Two Hours To Learn Life

By | October 5, 2013

Tonight we went to hear Commander Chris Hadfield talk about space. Canada’s remarkable astronaut in our midst. It could not be missed.

There were lots of people with the same goal in mind who gathered in a formation that resembled a gigantic snake slithering along the hallways of one of the TRU buildings towards the lecture hall. Due to a somewhat anticipated crowded night, the talk was to be heard directly in the main hall and indirectly via simulcast in two overflow rooms. Fitting for a one-of-a-kind astronaut right?

Lucky us, as we entered one of the overflow rooms, we got to see Cmdr. Hadfield for a few minutes. He was apologizing for not being able to be in three rooms at once but happy to offer the overflowers the consolation of a wisely planned simulcast.

We were in the last row, hoping we can hear and see at least some of it. We did, all of it.

I was spellbound during the talk. I admit to never being charmed enough by the prospect of getting myself into a spaceship about to take off. But as it so happens with remarkable talks given by people who do remarkable things, previous thoughts on the matter get scattered in the wind and there I was almost ready to utter the “Where do I sign up for the next flight?”

Chris Hadfield talked about the world he got to see from up there in a way that validated my beliefs about wanting to clinging onto the idea that this charming backyard we call Earth needs all the help we can provide in order to stay alive and spectacular.

He talked about his childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut, of cutting his own path towards getting to that countdown on launch day at some point in his life. He did. The talk was inspiring and his way of looking at life refreshing. He talked about measuring life’s worth not by how many things you can checks off your bucket list, but by the daily, seemingly insignificant things that we have the choice to find joy in. A good perspective, you’ll have to admit, coming from a man who has seen it all from space.

He talked about what it takes to be an astronaut. Determination, working hard, a bit of luck, but to really make it up there like he did and a few others too, you need to be a good person. Giving, selfless and able to use self-resources to keep yourself entertained when the going gets tougher. Strong but kind, and with a continuous sense of wonder because every day will offer a new perspective on a place you thought you knew but still appears new every time you go round.

He told the audience how when one sees the places we so confidently walk on from space, they become dear but also remind of how fragile life is.

He talked about remarkable discoveries that come about in small crowded labs up in space and how many discoveries up there translate into better things for us here on Earth.

He talked about us being all from the same place in the end, Earth, the only one we all have and share, and how easy it is to forget that when we smugly assert ourselves to one place or another. Impressive and humbling at once.

The talk, the many stories he shared and the answers at the end made both boys say “I like Chris Hadfield!” Rightfully so. I do too.

The kind of hero I like; with human abilities but doing remarkable things. The only superpower I can think of is flying out into space and back many times while still staying fully grounded.

 

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