A Goodbye To Astronauts

Washington DC, the Nation’s Capital, the most powerful city in the world and the place I call home. I have to admit upfront that I was not aware of the landing of The Discovery until the day of, and I have my morning routine of watching Ann, Matt and Al on the Today Show to thank for that. Of course, being the self-proclaimed yuppie that I am, when I entered work I chimed along with the buzz in the office and offered all the knowledge I had aggregated from Wiki on my Metro ride in. “Almost 40 successful missions! It took the Hubble Telescope to space! It’s been around for over 30 years!” — I sounded like a blubbering NASA retiree, but I didn’t care, the space shuttle was coming to town.

As I stopped to get an iced skinny vanilla latte (no space shuttle sighting is complete without an iced latte, in my professional opinion), I noticed the now bustling streets of DC in the direction of the National Monument. In a scene similar to one that could be found in Mr. Smith’s epic Independence Day, Washingtonians seemed to forget about their jobs, their titles, and their power and started in an all-out sprint to the get on the Mall in time to see the shuttle cross behind the Monument. No Sprint or Verizon commercial could compete with this site; stuffy DC elitists running in their heels and three piece suits (and that was just the men) while holding their phones in the air ready to snap a shot of the tiny object in the sky.  Sure enough, as 10am rolled around, and there it was — our nation’s cherished space shuttle, The 1984 Discovery.

I will admit that after seeing the shuttle, taking numerous pictures (and uploading, of course), I did spend most of my day researching and discussing this US space exploration thing. In one particular conversation, I was asked “What was the big fuss about? It’s basically a stupid plane.” It was then that I made my discovery about the Discovery and everything that surrounded its final mission home.

It’s not the size or function of the Discovery; no, the “tiny” ship fit on top of a 747 easily. It’s also not the design, nor its numerous accomplishments. I discovered that the big fuss around this spaceship is that it represents our exploration and the idea that there is something more out there – something more to be discovered. After all, isn’t that what we are all searching for? Something more? We live our lives in a routine, we live to work and work to live. Many of us have a great life, all things considered. We have friends, relationships, stories of times that were and, if we’re lucky, people to share them with. But is that all there is to life? Going through each day as a drone completing tasks that, while productive, provide no extra meaning or satisfaction?

I don’t think so. Watching some of the World’s most powerful individuals sprint like middle school students on the last day of the school year to see the Discovery brought this point home to me. We’re all looking to be apart of something bigger, we just need to discover what that is. Whether it be leaving the monotony of the day-to-day to join in history by watching a spacecraft come home for the last time, or even indulge in the utter satisfaction of instagraming and muploading the one of a kind picture of the ship over the White House, we all just want to experience the feeling of being a part of something more.

The day the Discovery made its final trip home, I found a tiny piece of that feeling and relished in its existence. No, the Discovery didn’t show me the meaning of life, love and the pursuit of happiness in its entirety (I guess I can still go downtown and read the Constitution for that answer). But, it did illustrate to me that we’re all in the same boat. We all want a piece of something bigger, and that day it was experiencing history live and in color, waving goodbye to the spacemen we all used to dream of being. Whether we are the ones passing laws and motions that will affect billions, or small-time Starbucks addicts like myself, we are all just looking for something more to discover. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Stuart Rankin

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