"The true voyagers are those who leave for the sake of leaving
And without knowing why, they always say, we must go!" - Baudelaire
I’m flirting with an ever-burgeoning obsession with outer space and the great vast silent sexy infinite darkness that lies therein. There are no Wal-Marts in space. No pants vs. leggings screaming matches. In space, there are no ISIS beheadings, no toddlers singing “Let It Go,” and no Brazilians hanging out of a space bus with selfie sticks. In space, there’s some goddamn peace and quiet, and as Liz Lemon said, “I want to go to there.” I worry that when the intelligent life from other planets finally comes to Earth, they’ll murder us all simply because of the Kardashians. I wouldn’t fault them for it, either. I’ll be the one standing in my yard with a sign reading “TAKE ME WITH YOU--ALSO CAN I BRING MY CATS?”
The idea of being catapulted at 17,500 miles per hour into the sky strapped to a literal fuck ton of fuel is violently terrifying, and as a child I was the kid in class that did not want to be an astronaut, THANKS ANYHOW. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Leave this comfy place with the enforced nap times and the cheesy pizza and the baby kittens? BUT WHY, THOUGH? It’s so safe, predictable and sleepy here. Because we must. We must go. Official Space Lesbian Sally Ride once said, “All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary” and she went to space in the 80’s, a time when I think they were riding old hairdryers to the moon. This was also a time when reporters thought it was ok to ask questions like: "Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?" and "Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?" She went bravely into the unknown without crying AND her vagina didn’t fly off. She’s my hero.
The word ‘adventure’ comes from the Latin word adventurus meaning ‘about to happen,’ and in our culture of go go go, we’re chronically obsessed with knowing what’s about to happen next. I could be in a spaceship plummeting back to Earth, face a-flapping, survival not yet guaranteed, but 97% of the time spent crashing to my death I’d be thinking about what kind of cheese to buy later. Forget patience, we live in a constant state of frenetic immediacy and an always present need to know what’s happening directly following the thing that we’re supposed to be paying attention to.
I read a theory about how we would act if the stars only came out once every hundred years. Many of us might see them once in our lifetime but even more of us would never see them at all. No one would sleep that night and people would have wild star-gazing parties and we would be delirious, awe-struck with amazement over the sight. Instead, the stars come out every night and we can’t be bothered to look away from our Netflix addictions or nauseatingly self-indulgent Snapchat orgies. How quickly we become accustomed to splendor. We’re used to it, bored by it even, and I think this kind of ambivalence towards off the charts beauty has taken a toll on the underlying spirit of adventure. It's human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really; it's an imperative. WE MUST GO.
Come terrible humans, I dare you to turn everything with a screen off, go the hell outside and look up. Get lost in the inky darkness and sheer spectacle of the stars in the night sky. Dream about faraway planets and beautiful sights yet unseen. Don’t be a part of the useless noisemaking and empty lost time wasted staring at screens. No one on their deathbed wishes for more time on Facebook. Be present and live your life among the stars. For there is only one great adventure, and that lies within each one of us.