10 Things I Would Like to Do in Outer Space
Postscript: Before I wrote this, I envisioned this list to be wacky, whimsical, irreverent and spot-on as a cultural analysis, or perhaps a children’s book. In the end, my earnest side came out, and I found myself “The Wizard of Oz-ing” toward the end. That’s okay. My 25-year-old self is congratulating me for finally owning my love of being earnest.
So, I’ve landed in outer space, and I’m floating around, and I’m thrilled that I haven’t passed out or died. This is how it is by now, so …
- I would like to just stop and breathe.
I can’t remember when I really breathed for the last time. I’m still alive, so obviously I’m breathing as sure as I’m writing this (i.e. as much as we can be sure of anything). But I can’t remember actually doing the breathing and that’s the important part, isn’t it? If we don’t remember something, it can’t possibly affect our lives in a way that really counts? Not that I want to judge. But I spend too much time doing, and running, and hurrying, and oh, worrying, and this doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for stopping. Or breathing. I can’t say my priorities are in order in light of the glaring truth that “breath is life”. I would like to know, now that it’s clear humans can feasibly breathe in out space, what it feels like to have a rush of air fill my body, and for my lungs and belly to fill so wide, and then to just let it all gooooo … I don’t know if it’s sad or ironic that I need to hurtle myself into outer space to find my breath, but this is still the thing the very first thing that pops into mind.
- I would like to listen to the silence.
I can’t remember what silence sounds like. It must be there, punctuating the noise like a profoundly simple period, just like my breath’s there as an unwavering fact. But if the tree falls and no-one’s in the forest … Anyway, I know from my film student days watching silent movies that silence is not at all quiet or empty; it sounds a whole lot like a loud, even potentially invasive sound. I want to stop hearing sounds like traffic and yelling and TV screeching and what they call “white noise”, all of which slowly and persistently ooze into the fabric of our being us without our conscious awareness. I want to know what it sounded like for the first flowers and trees and rocks and amoeba and tiny land creatures once they first found themselves on our planet. Which means I want to go all the way to outer space to have an experience of what Earth once was and frankly can still be if we do it right. I accept this. I want to arrive in outer space, and hear the same huge darkness all around me. I want the Sound of no Sounds. I want to take a bath in the quiet and enter the kind of loud silence that tells me my mind is in need of a sound detox so that I can hear my true self again.
I would like to not look down for awhile.
I know it seems my desires for outer space seem boring, or not unlike what I might look forward to in a sensory deprivation tank. In many ways, I think I’d be pretty happy in one of those, and fulfill my goals, which seem driven by the need for inner peace (en route to world peace, of course). Still, there’s something very enticing about the idea of leaping off Earth, which, of course is also in outer space, to another vantage point in outer space, which humans have collectively built so many fantasies upon. I don’t have the perfect perspective of Earth, it goes without saying, because I’m only one person in one place at any given moment on this ever-spinning ball of hot fire and cool waters. But I’ve been around a little bit and I’ve read and heard things and have a pretty good picture of Life on Earth. My Life on Earth is as big and as small as the next person’s. I don’t want to go all way into outer space just to look down on Earth and be nostalgic or rueful, or even to have my perspective change from seeing it all tiny and blue. I don’t actually want that frame of reference. Not yet. First, I want to give outer space a shot by giving it my full attention. I want to not look down, where I have too many habit patterns and expectations all balled up and leaving a spitfire of negativity in its wake (I’m afraid I’d be able to see it if I looked down), and move right ahead into this cosmic experience.
- I would like to look into all the delicious space around me.
Now that I’m fully ensconced in space and not looking down, I have plenty of time to look around. Earth be gone. (For now; I haven’t been gone long enough to miss it yet, and I have a high threshold, anyway, for being away from home.) Outer space is not going to be like the Earth that dwells within its realms. I’m not sure where I’m located in outer space, but I can be pretty certain that there will be no tall buildings, electrical wires, congested intersections and bulldozed forests to seize at my heart. I can’t say for sure what I’m going to find (outer space had me at silence alone), but I imagine that since Earth is smaller than one tiny speck of sand in Great Big Picture of All that Is, I’m going to run into a lot of space, and I want to experience for the first time in my life what spacious space feels like. I felt in once, in a great panic, as I lost my dad’s hand under a huge wave in the ocean and there was a great sense of the enormity of all things mixed in with the panic, and I’ve attempted to find this enormity over and over in meditation, with mixed results. But in outer space, I will find the dual blasts of Space and Silence – I can’t wait.
- I would like to talk to the stars up close.
I really would. Not just see them, but converse with them. I talk to trees at home and really enjoy it. I’ve also engaged in dialogue with the stars from home, the way I’ve talked to some of the greatest thinkers of all time as I’ve plowed their books on my worn futon. How many times have I laid down on the grass to stare up at the stars on a clear night, and wished I knew how far they were, really, from me, and how close or far they were to each other? How many times have I wanted to make these trips? This is my Everest. I want to climb upon the stars and leap off them and find another star-landing to mount. From Earth, we see shiny or less shiny seas of dots, and some of them form constellations, or pictures or patterns we’ve found and built sciences and myths upon. We name them like we own them, and we dream about them, and we have named celebrities after them, as a genus. Once I’m in outer space, though, I want to forget all that, and just get as close as I can, knowing that in Outer Space Time, they are no longer merely bright, but the source of the nighttime brightness we see on Earth. I would like to ask them what they life has been like, what they’ve seen and done. What they know.
- I would like to talk to the people I love.
I’m a Gemini. I like talking. It was inevitable that talking to people and things were going to come up on my list of Universe To-Do’s. Of course, I won’t have a phone or computer, and I’m more than a little bit relieved to know that, though I’ll confess that in my bid to not forget about the world, I’ve become one of the very last people I know not to have ever graduated from a regular cell phone to a smart one. In any case, when I say I would like to talk to my loved ones, I mean in my head, of course. Or rather, my heart. I’ll need both, truth be told. I can be a very distracted human when I’m at home. Plus, since conversation and communication come very naturally for me, sometimes I think I’m communicating excellently, only to realize that I talked far more than listened (I’m sorry, it was so unintended!), and didn’t take enough time to really feel the presence of my loved ones in front of me. Ideally, I don’t have to travel as far as the Moon and Stars to “hear them”, but at least now, in Outer Space, I’ll be able to sit my loved ones in front of me, in the eye of my psyche, and really see and consider them, and love them with all my heart, and just … listen. This is how talking will look, in Outer Space. It will look like listening.
- I would like to have intergalactic conversations.
I’m still on the talking. Maybe I’ll learn more about Geminis in Outer Space, closer to the source. As I said, communication is big for me, and I didn’t come all the way to Outer Space to not make new friends! Oh, the things I can learn! I don’t care where they come from, or what colour they are, or what language they speak, because I’m assuming it’s a given we will be reading minds, if not outright transcending them, in Outer Space. I want to meet them all! Everyone has a story, and there is just so much I don’t know, and so much I want to know. What better way than through the eyes (or whatever sensory organs or devices are going on here) of the creatures who live here! I’ll be happy to talk about Earth too, but first, I will listen. I’ve already learned something, in Outer Space. I will listen, and I will try to broaden my perspective on how things are by discovering how things are like for others. Then I might be able to come just a little bit closer to expanding my vision of how things can be for myself, and for all of us.
- I would like to go on a road trip to all the distant galaxies.
I love travel. As if traveling to outer space isn’t laborious and exotic enough, I’d like to take it further. I wanted to be happy as a clam grounded like a tree, but I’m not there yet. It goes without saying that I would love to universe-trot and find out, proverbially, of course, what TV shows they watch, what travel looks like for them, how their homes are conceived and styled, where they shop, and what is pretty, ugly, useful or functional for my new friends. Or, I’d just like to see what kind of cosmic soup any or all sentient beings are surrounded with on a daily basis, if they have anything resembling the notion of “day”, that is. I’m sure I can’t really grasp a galaxy or a few of them any more than I can fathom the layout of a shopping mall with any degree of “big picture”, but I would like to wade in and, one step at a time, mingle and explore my way through it all.
- Speaking of days, I would like to see if time stops in outer space
I mean, time can’t stop, because chronology doesn’t really exist. Besides, the way we experience time depends on so many factors, from who we are to where we are located. Thank you, Einstein’s relativity theory! We’ve all heard stories of how the lucky few go into outer space for a few hours or days in Earth time, and return looking exactly the same to an Earth 50 years in the future. I won’t be able to experience this as a stoppage of time as long as I’m up there of course, since I’ll be breathing (finally!) and doing things and it must feel a whole lot like how I do those things at home. But if I end up with the silky smooth, taut skin of a youth upon my return home, I’ll try not to be too boastful about it. Still, though, without calendars and clocks ticking, it feels like landing in outer space would generate a sound like a vacuum sucking all regular things out of my life, like Time, which I will capitalize upon, because we perceive it, like Truth, to be so monumental. What would a world without boundaries look like, without regretting past actions and panicking about the future? Can I boil and egg properly without a timer? Will I learn to be instinctive about how I act? I guess I’m not really talking about time, but what I would be doing with it and I can re-conceive it, and I just want to know what I’ll come up with.
- I would like to orbit the Earth.
I guess this moment was destined to come. Okay, I’m ready, and I don’t feel guilty. Guilt, I’m trying to tell myself, is a Home thing and not an Outer Space thing. I acknowledge that I love being in Outer Space and I also acknowledge that like Dorothy, the protagonist of my favourite movie of all time, I’m allowed to have being away remind me how much I have to be grateful for at home. I’m allowed! I’m not lonely yet, per se, but I have been out and about for a while, and I’m starting to really get how ginormous this sea of our existence is. Now it’s time to see what my home looks like from the sky. Fair? I want to do this slowly, without any sense of rush or purpose. I don’t want to have any expectations and I don’t want to project my newly-minted experiences onto my home planet. Maybe I would like to have special, magical goggles so I can filter for different things like oceans, trees and awesome cafes (truth: I do miss those), but overall, I just want to hover, linger and make my way around the globe, just close enough to feel like I actually live there and just far enough away to see little more than its beautiful array of colours. I’m not saying that I do or that I don’t want to stay in outer space forever. I can’t know that yet. But if and when I decide to orbit Earth, I want to wade back in, slowly, so that I’m careful to dive back to exactly where I was. I want to be in that perfect sweet spot where I know I can safely land back home, but keep my head and heart in the stars. And I want to continue to do this all in glorious silence, and the most mindful of connections far and wide.