Mental Spacecraft: Two Contradictory Views from Space

Fifty years after humanity’s first steps on the moon seems like a good excuse to imagine the view from space. You are floating, weightless, taking in the beauty of Earth, a tiny blue marble dangling below. An umbilical cord tethers you to your spacecraft. The silence voids your senses, the only sound is the blood pumping through your veins. What thoughts cross your mind as you gaze back at our planet?

Perhaps the view inspires awe, the fulfillment of the dreams you had as a child while drawing pictures of spaceships, days when you looked up at the face of the moon, amazed by the ability of humans to span such a distance. Anything seemed possible.

Or perhaps the darkness of space inspires what astronaut Edgar Mitchell described as

“an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it… You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”

Does it surprise you that a boy looking up at the moon can be filled with hope while a man looking down at Earth can be filled with despair? Is Earth a sphere of unlimited potential, or is our planet doomed? How far from Earth must you go before you can see it objectively? Even in the vacuum of space we can’t completely escape the baggage we bring with us. And of course we don’t need to go to space to feel dissatisfaction with the world. At our best we are optimistic and inspired to be human. At our worst we echo Mitchell’s outrage about how things need to improve.

I want you to entertain a terrifying idea. Each of us decides which reality we want to accept. Choose your own adventure.

Option 1: You shake your fists at the politicians, the flat Earthers, or whatever villain is on your hit list.

Option 2: You let optimism win, you adapt and transform into the kind of person who initiates change.

If you choose to shake your fist your adventure ends here. It was a short trip. There are plenty of Earthlings fist-shaking to little effect. You might as well save some rocket fuel by cutting your cord and drifting silently into the emptiness. The end.

But that’s not you. Since you choose hope, our adventure can continue. Let’s get back in our spacecraft, grab the controls, and warm up the rockets.

Either we live in a pre-built world where we accept the rules as they are dictated to us in textbooks or we can live in a world of builders where each of us learns as we go, growing irrationally attached to our creations as the world bends around us.

The good news is you can change channels on your mental tv show at any time. Things you thought were impossible will come into reach. People you once hated may become allies. Maybe that will be enough to unlock our ability to make the world a little better with each rotation around the sun.

Thanks for reading. This post is a hint of ideas I am still refining as I work on my second book. The first draft is promising, but it’s too early to announce a release date. In the meantime I will come out of hibernation occasionally to keep my Saturday morning writing tradition going, even if my output is sporadic. Follow me so you don’t miss the moments when I come out of my cave. Stay creative.

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia