Lost in space
My wife and I watched most of the news around Michael Strahan and crew shuttling off into space. Once they did their fifteen minutes, Strahan was interviewed and tried to explain the experience. Gobstopped like a third grader, he said the earth and everything around it looked so little and tiny, and when you looked beyond the earth, into deep space, you could only imagine that the planet is smaller and tinier than you ever thought. It puts the whole world into perspective.
I asked my wife if she would go on the rocket.
I got that look. “You have got to be kidding.”
“Why? Jeez. I’d go in a heartbeat.”
“I wouldn’t go because you’re so dependent on other people and alone. It’s only you and the crew and, let me tell ya, you don’t call a tow truck to come and get you if the thing doesn’t start.”
“True enough,” I nodded, thinking it’s exactly what most people – me included – need.
I read this poem a couple days later and thought of the spaceflight and my conversation and how the world is always breaking around us. At the same time, I thought of the Psalm that says, “Bad news holds no fear for him. Firm is his heart, trusting in Yahweh.” If I were to get a tattoo, this is what I would write, emblazoned on the inside of my wrists.
Sooner or later it comes to everyone: we are fragile shoots of dried straw carried by a stream until we hit a rock and snap. It’s not because of who we are or because of what we’ve done, or even what’s been done to us: it’s just because we are. It’s part and parcel of being human.
You now know that anything could happen;
things that never happened before, things that
only happened in movies and nightmares
are happening now, as if nothing could
stop them. You know now that you are not safe,
you know you live in fragile skin and bones,
that even steel and concrete can melt away,
and that the earth itself can come unhinged,
shaken from its orbit around the sun.
You know, now that anything can happen,
it’s hard to know what will, and what will you
do now that you know? What words will you say
now that you could say anything? What hands
will you hold? Whose heart will beat inside you?
Ah. Those last lines: “What words will you say now? What hands will you hold? Whose heart will beat inside you?”
So, be fragile and broken. Hurt when your father dies. Gasp with your wife when she hears she has cancer. Sing when your daughter swims her fastest 50-meter freestyle. And love. Love lots. Then love some more.
This came to me via The Writer’s Almanac, a daily email from Garrison Keillor. Go there and see if it’s something you would enjoy.
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