I’ve been a little obsessed this last year with Scott Kelly’s journey in space (I’m also a fan of his SIL Gabby Giffords but that’s another post for another day). In case you missed it, he’s coming home today. Like, back to Earth. After hanging out in space for 340 days.
I follow Kelly on Twitter–and I’ve loved seeing his thoughts and the photos that he tweets from space. From. Space. Y’all.
Seriously. Sunrise, moon rise, vast oceans, gorgeous landscapes, mighty storms–he’s shown us all of it from his perspective way up there and it totally blows my mind.
Because on the one hand, it is so damn intimate…these 140-character thoughts he’s had about life up there, delivered right to my Twitter feed, every day. Like I know the guy personally.
But on the other hand, it’s so damn big…this universe we’re in, so beyond our full comprehension in terms of possibility and imagination. We literally have no idea what all is spinning around out there besides us, or what effect any of it has on our day-to-day lives. We know some things. Suspect others. Study even more. But we really don’t know, for sure, what else might be at work out there in space.
And against this backdrop of vast space and unknowing are our every day lives.
Car pool. Homework. Soccer practice. Work meetings. Dentist appointments. Oil changes on the family car. The grocery store. Bill paying. The grind of day-to-day existence of so many of us in these United States. It’s a privilege, to be sure, these busy and often stressful lives of ours. But it can seem like anything but. It can seem like the proverbial rat race. Like we’ll never really manage it all. Like we’ll never really get ahead of the game. It can seem futile, even–not life itself, but the everyday realities of it.
Look, I’m grateful, please know that. Even if work or finances or relationships don’t always go as I’d hoped or planned, I have secure housing, a safe neighborhood, enough food, plenty of clothing, a good job, dependable transportation and on top of all these things people who love me.
I know this, and I do not take it for granted.
Scott Kelly helps me not take it for granted. Scott Kelly sending back to Earth his learnings and observations from space help me see the big picture. Help me gain perspective. Help me remember that this life we live, it is a marathon, not a sprint, and some legs of it are harder, more all-consuming, scarier, than others.
But these long and rough stretches don’t last forever. You keep moving. You hang in there. You run the race, even when your muscles ache and your bones are weary. You just do it.
(In my native South, we call it grit.)
And for me, the “just doing it” becomes so much easier when I remember I am not alone, and that this pretty planet of ours hurtling through space is full of goodness and grace, even as pockets of it teem with anger and sadness and heartache. Still…even still…there is sunrise. And moon rise. And the soft blessing of the first warm breeze of spring. And the quiet benediction of the first snow blanketing the ground. And feel of my daughter’s hand in mine, squeezing “I love you” as she hops out of the car at school each morning and I catch my breath as I watch her skip, full-hearted, into another day of life.
I can’t imagine what it will be like for Scott Kelly to wake up tomorrow morning. On solid ground. With gravity at play. But I imagine that in the days and weeks and even years ahead, he’ll have something to teach us all about what it means to have life at all; how it is that we all cross and connect and have effect on one another, even when we don’t realize it; how truly, unbelievably huge this world is; how small our little place in it.
And how in the midst of all of it, no matter how big or small every single one of us matters.