Reading and Reflections on Life

The International Space StationI recently finished astronaut Chris Hadfield’s book titled, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. If interested, see my book review below. It was an engaging read and reawakened my fascination with space and the space program.

Like Hadfield, I too watched Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and thought there had to be nothing cooler in the world. The dreamer in me fantasized about becoming an astronaut. As I grew into my teens it was a dream that I knew would never be fulfilled. There were too many obstacles I’d never overcome.

At that time, only military test pilots became astronauts. I’ve worn glasses since I was ten. The military did not train individuals to be pilots unless they had perfect eye sight, hearing, and no other physical limitations. Strike one.

Later, NASA accepted candidates to become astronauts who had PhDs that could benefit the space program in some way. I was a disillusioned young man at that time and didn’t finish college. I could not see the purpose of what I termed, “the bullshit courses,” that had nothing to do with one’s major. Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I see the practical aspect of those courses and regret I didn’t finished college. Regardless, at the time I began flying lessons which I consumed myself with. College got shoved aside while I concentrated on becoming an airline pilot. Strike two.

Over the years of doing self-reflection, and after reading Hadfield’s book, I also realize I wouldn’t have made a good astronaut. Other than being with my wife, I prefer my time alone. That’s a good characteristic for an author, but not one for an astronaut who will be cooped up with three to six others on the International Space Station. Although I feel I work well with the other pilots I fly with, there are times I’ll let a first officer’s personality bug me. I can put these differences aside for a four day trip. How well would I do on a six month mission in space? Strike three.

But, my fascination with space and astronauts, and my passion for crafting engaging thrillers can work together. I have several threads of ideas rumbling around in my head for stories I’d love to write that revolve around the space program. To make them believable, they’ll take extensive research. The thought of sitting down with an astronaut and discussing their career, training, fears, and how they balance career and family, or visiting the training facilities at the Johnson Space Center have me squirming in my seat.

In the meantime, I can read more about the fascinating career astronauts have and the many ways the space program advances life on earth. I’ve read several great novels I enjoyed years ago I’ll be reading again even though I remember the characters and plots very well.

The first was a novel titled, Gravity, by an author that became one of my favorites: Tess Gerritsen. This book came out a decade or more ago and has nothing to do with the recent movie by Alfonso Cuaron. I enjoyed that book so much I’ve downloaded it onto my iPad and will read it again soon.

Stephen Harrigan also wrote a novel titled, Challenger Park, about a female astronaut, which I’ll be reading again.

After reading Hadfield’s book, I realize how well these two novels had been researched; setting the bar for the investigation I’ll have to do.

What about you? Any dreams or aspirations you may never fulfill, but are at peace with?

14 thoughts on “Reading and Reflections on Life

  1. elysesalpeter

    I wanted to become a doctor. In college micro-economics and organic chemistry (both needed for my BS degree) eluded me and I dropped out of those classes and left the pre-med dream behind. I did continue to volunteer in hospitals and thought I’d go in the field in OT or PT, but there were just so many sick little kids and I’d cry along with them. I don’t regret not going into the field, but I wonder sometimes who I could have helped if I’d just persevered. Still, it’s good to know your limits. Nice post.

  2. Old Things R New

    I read High Calling by Evelyn Husband who was the commander, I believe, of the Challenger. The book has a lot about his faith in it, but also about life as he worked towards being an astronaut. Rebekah, my daughter has done months of research on the space program from it’s inception and has a lot of them written down if you would like. She just told a really good book is Live From Cape Canaveral) by Jay Barbree. It has a lot of funny stories.

    As for my aspirations as a child, I wanted to be a missionary but couldn’t get past the idea of bugs and no indoor plumbing.

  3. Christine (@ckRaggio)

    It really is amazing how we can live so many different lives and fantasies out in our novels. I wanted to be too many different things to list when I was growing up. Most of them I was able to try in some way. Among them, and very high on my list in my early twenties was homicide detective. Obviously something one doesn’t dabble in to see if it’s something they’d like to do. Being able to write a series about a female detective is the closest I’ll ever get, but with how this poor woman’s life is turning out it makes me even more glad I didn’t decide to take that road. Brilliant post, Dana! Really got me thinking about how lucky I am to be a writer.

  4. Elise Stokes (@CassidyJonesAdv)

    Funny thing is, I wanted to be a writer, but got diverted in college and settled on pursuing a teaching credential instead. I’m not sure how it happened, or at what point I allowed my dream to dissolve (Maybe all the cute college boys had something to do with it? ;)). Wish I knew myself better back then.

    1. danagriffin Post author

      Yeah, those college boys might’ve had something to do with it. You’re living out your aspirations now, Elise, and doing it well. Thank you for reading and responding.

  5. Writer, CR HIATT (@McSwainandBeck)

    I have had a lot of dreams through the years. When I was twenty-one, I wanted to be a flight attendant, and travel. One week before I was supposed to get on a plane to start my training, my Grandmother (who was really more like a Mother to me) was stricken with cancer, so I made the decision to spend time with her instead of following my dream. Giving up my spot put me at the back of a long list of potential candidates, so I gave up the pursuit. It would have been fun, but I probably wouldn’t have had my daughter if that goal came to fruition, so good choice. 🙂

    1. danagriffin

      I hope your grandmother appreciated you giving up your dream. It says a lot about someone when they look at the positives of giving up on a dream. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  6. Ms. Cheevious

    I wanted to be a doctor… and I could have done it too, if it weren’t for the math and science part. BAHAHAHA… but you gotta hand it to life… it weaves us through various situations and opportunities, and as kids we dream big based on our youthful idealizations of what we think life would be like doing that one cool thing… But then we get a dose of what it takes, and that’s where the rubber meets the road… if we are ROCK STARS like you and I Dana (of course), then we find our path somewhere else, and succeed and enjoy life just the same. BAM.

  7. LisaJeyDavis

    As you must know by now, I hopped around a bit as a kid and teenager, when it came to what I wanted to be. The one thing I probably could have done and been really good and competitive in was an Olympic iceskater. We lived in New Mexico however, where ice time, gear and lessons came at a premium, and as one of eleven kids to my parents – they simply didn’t have the resources to get me there. I never blamed them, however. I just went on with my life… Then there was that time I wanted to be an interpreter to the UN. I am somewhat gifted in deciphering meanings of words in other languages, based on latin or some other reference point. It was an aunt who said I basically didn’t have the chops and discouraged me from even trying. She was my only Aunt too… Shame on her. BUT… I use my keen verboseness (ha – is that even a word??) in my writing and I enjoy every moment thoroughly. And as for the athletic part – well, I’ve gone on other adventures – rock climbing up 500 foot cliffs, hiking on the edges of precipices (sp?), and snowboarding in Aspen, CO… I’ve done some COOL things and have no regrets — great post! Made me reflect on life!


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