I was in tears just now watching William Shatner’s response to going to space. (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=gI5bTKwDpoM)
I have never been to space. But I understand what he’s talking about.
At night, I can see stars. That’s normal – they’re amazing and beautiful, but I never thought much beyond that. But it occurred to me one night some years ago, sitting in my backyard, looking up at the night sky, that I wasn’t seeing the sky. I was seeing what is beyond the sky. The protective bubble had been rendered transparent, and now I was seeing the universe.
For a moment I was sitting on the surface of a planet, protected by a bubble I couldn’t even see save for maybe a cloud, exposed to the immense deadly reality of space. Space that goes on and on and on. I was petrified. The atmosphere was so thin, was that all that was physically there between me and near-endless emptiness?
The feeling went away, and I appreciated the stars again, but I’ve never felt that the Earth was so fragile as I did that night.
(The closest may have been when I saw Saturn through a telescope – tiny and fragile and a pale yellow, surrounded by unending blackness. No stars. Just nothingness. I was not expecting there to be no stars. The intensity and depth of the blackness was something I can’t easily put into words.)
That is space. And now I’m watching William Shatner trying to describe to Jeff Bezos the immensity of his experience, the seconds between life, our beautiful blue planet, and the endless nothingness beyond as they shot through the atmosphere.
I am a writer. What I do is put into words experiences that are difficult to describe. But I’m not sure I can do this justice. I’ve only experienced it halfway, but even that, I’m not sure I did above. I wrote this post quickly, but I’ve been thinking about it for years. And I need to do it justice so that I can hopefully make others feel what I did/motivate them to take action.
Our planet is so precious. This world is so beautiful, thank God. It’s so easy to take it for granted. I write climate fiction because, as people say, there is no Planet B, that we know of. We have this beautiful world for now. We need to act while we can. I pray that we continue to have it for generations to come.