In light of the recent space shuttle explosion, we are reminded again that space travel is still an untamed frontier. What is it about space travel that seems astronomically expensive and impractical, yet inspires and sparks our imagination unlike anything else? After only a few minutes talking with one of the world’s best known astronauts, Chris Hadfield, I already had a different perspective on life. His advice to people of all ages? Imagine your perfect life and make decisions in line with that. Even with unattainable goals, you will end up doing bigger and better things than you would think possible and you will enjoy yourself along the way. “And in my case, I wanted to walk on the moon. That was my goal. I’m never going to do that, I’m never going to walk on the moon, but I’ve really enjoyed all of the things that that dream has led me to and the opportunities that have come as a result.”
It is clear that Hadfield embodies Einstein’s musing that, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” For Hadfield, goal setting is not limiting, but has led to fun and record-setting adventures. This modern renaissance man may be on the Canadian $5 bill for being the first Canadian to space-walk, but he has also recorded music videos from space that have gone viral. (If you haven’t seen his existential version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” stop what you are doing, plug in some headphones if you have to, and check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo). Hadfield has resided both in the Thermosphere and at the bottom of the ocean. He has recorded songs in space and has written books (one of which is being made into a new sitcom by Warner Brothers).
Now another aspect of his creative talents is taking flight. He is currently touring for his newest book, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes. Even though NASA doesn’t schedule one second for photos, Hadfield used any spare moment he got on the International Space Station snapping photos all around the globe because, “you feel like it would be an insult if you didn’t take every picture you can.” Combining probability (taking over 45,000 photos) with luck (“Sometimes you just get one shot at a photo where you just had the right angle between you, the earth, and the sun that day and then it’s cloudy.”) led to a jaw-dropping collection. Hadfield whittled it down to “the 150 that showed the world the best. Not the most beautiful, but just the most clearly, if you and I were going around the world once together and I just wanted to show you, this is what it looks like. Come to the window with me and see the world.”
Here are a few of our favorites to whet your appetite:
If you want to get a taste for the vastness yet connectedness of the world, Chris Hadfield’s book is widely available. But, if you want a chance to meet a living legend face-to-face, then head over to Barnes & Noble in Edina tomorrow to meet him and pick up an autographed copy (Wednesday, November 12, 2014 7:00pm at Barnes & Noble Galleria).
While his list of accolades is stunning, you don’t get to that level of accomplishment unless you are driven to keep learning, pushing, and trying new things. What’s next? He wants to go back to school for archeology and geology and learn how to speak French better.
His life is the perfect reflection of what happens when you choose to take risks and dream big. I’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom he doesn’t just believe in, but lives out every day, “I think the real key is to have an understanding of what will happen if your life goes perfectly. What really excites you…If my life goes perfectly, 15 years from now I’m going to be doing this or I’m going to be living here or whatever, set yourself some sort of long-term unattainable goal or, at least, barely attainable goal for yourself and use that, then, to help yourself decide what to do next. What should I do this weekend? What should I do this afternoon? What course should I take? What should I do? Because, otherwise, how do you ever know what to do next if you don’t know where you’re headed? And the beauty of that is that you probably won’t get all the way to your unattainable goal, but you will be, small decision by small decision, dragging your life in a direction that suits you. And you’re going to end up doing things that are agreeable to you or that are fun or that may not be the exact thing that you were dreaming of, but that are in that vein.”