I still catch myself staring up at the sky, especially at night.
I can name the constellations quickly, can pinpoint the Northern Star at a moment’s glance and know that the bright orb just off the horizon is a planet, not a star. Most likely, it is Jupiter from where I’m standing.
I’m a million miles away from where my childhood resides, but I’m just one glance from seeing what I saw when I was there. It keeps me young. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me wondering what else is going on around me and away from me.
It isn’t too hard to figure out that I wanted to be an astronomer when I was a kid. My head was in the stars, flying among them and visiting the planets and galaxies that were just out of reach of a 8-year-old boy’s grasp. It was wonderful pouring over books about Jupiter, Mars, comets and the exploding stars light years away that made up the night’s sky. Space and all that it contained enveloped my dreams, my day-dreams and my fantasies. It still does to this day.
Movies also did a good number of feeding this childhood obsession – Star Wars and 2001, especially, with Battlestar Galactica thrown in from TV. I saw myself flying in a space craft, fighting the enemies and saving the day, knowing that one slip would send me into the airless vacuüm where there was no return. I imagined the planets, the people and animals within, and the sights of the galactic arms turning in the distance.
It is wonderful just sitting here thinking about it all.
Just one small problem – I have an artist’s drive, but not a mathematician’s mind. I never got past the basics, continuously tripped up over Statistics, and even struggled to get past Algebra. Yeah, I can compute a pitcher’s ERA pretty quickly and a hitter’s OBS (on-base percentage + slugging), but that’s as far as I could go. Even with encouragement and help from my parents, I was limited.
Now, I have NASA’s Web site to fuel the fires of my dreams. There are more movies to wonder over. There are tons of books – fiction and non-fiction – to keep me in tune with the dreams and the fantasies that are still in my head.
And, of course, I have the night sky to look up at, where my childhood resides, just out of reach of a 38-year-old man’s grasp.
Images from NASA and all credit goes to it: