Most kids want to go to space. This is because kids are stupid, myself included.
I no longer want to go to space. Here’s why.
- The overview effect. This is the “overwhelming sadness” many astronauts feel upon reaching space and realizing they just left the most beautiful thing in the entire, observable universe. As astronaut Bill Anders recalled on Christmas Eve, 1968, when he shot the iconic Earthrise photo (pictured), “When I looked up and saw the Earth coming up on this very stark, beat-up Moon horizon, I was immediately overcome with the thought, ‘Here we came all this way to the Moon, and yet the most significant thing we’re seeing is our own home planet, the Earth.'” William Shatner, who traveled to space in 2021, remarked, “All of a sudden, as though you whip a sheet off you when you’re asleep, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness. And you look down. There’s the blue down there and the black up there. And there is mother Earth and comfort. And up there… Is that death? I don’t know.”
- It’s all right here. As I sung on my second album, everything that’s good in the observable universe is “all right here.” Maybe something is cool beyond the observable universe. But within the bajillions of square light years that makes up the universe, nothing even comes close to the beauty, life, diversity, adventure, and generosity of earth and its alpha species (humans). Yes the world can be a cold, dark place sometimes. But it’s not nearly as cold, dark, and ugly as space. Again, it’s not even close. So it is here I will stay. I’m not making the same mistake many people in literature and movies often do—leaving home only to discover that the best thing they had was right in front of them.
No amount of blackness will ever change that for me. Happy holidays!