What did you want to be when you grew up?
Do you remember as a kid what you wanted to be when you grew up? Have you pursued those dreams, or, like the majority of us, are you doing something else? Have you ever had the chance to answer “What if…?”
I grew up in the 60s and was totally mesmerized by the space program, and through high school, thought I would be involved somehow as either an astronaut or space scientist. It didn’t come to pass, but I have kept up my love of astronomy by following both NASA and articles (as well as all the incarnations of Star Trek – yes I am a Trekkie).
I had the pleasure of living my dreams vicariously this week when I had the chance to hear astronaut Dan Tani talk at the Mt. Prospect Public Library about living and working on the space station for 4 months and seeing his pictures and videos from there. He spoke so well it felt like I was there. I (and the audience) had an excellent understanding of what it must be like to live and work on the space station, from learning to live in a weightless environment to maneuvering around in the EVA space suits.
So what does this have to do with learning? First, it showed me that I didn’t have to experience something (although would still love to) to understand and appreciate it. I could live my dreams vicariously. Second, it opened my mind up to what it really is like to live in space – not a romanticized version from fiction or movies. Third, questions were asked by kids, and boy they are smart! It showed me how much we can learn from those that are younger than us, and how much we should open our minds to possibilities we hadn’t thought of. Fourth, it taught me not to give up the dream! I may not be an astronaut or space scientist, but I could still learn from those that are and share in their experiences.
I learned that it does take some time – in Dan’s case a few weeks – to get used to weightlessness and moving around. How often do we learn something and expect to be an expert right away? Dan talked about how clear the earth looked when it snowed – streets stood out so clearly from space. This made me think about what is obvious that I may miss, much like the trees through the forest. Lastly, he talked about all the things we take for granted that work because of gravity, specifically eating, using sinks and toilets, exercising, etc. And it caused me to think about what I take for granted – clean, limitless water, abundance of food, easy transportation, even gravity.
Space may be the “final frontier,” but there are a lot of lessons to be learned that we can apply on earth to our own lives, while learning to appreciate our early dreams in other ways. Let us all “live long and prosper.”
About this BlogThis is Howard's ongoing exploration of ways to increase and expand lifelong learning.