A couple weeks ago when I was in San Francisco after returning from my trip to Miami, I had the pleasure of visiting Planet Labs where my boyfriend Zach works. As the universe would have it, that very same day, they had the coolest astronaut ever, Chris Hadfield, there at the office to speak. When I say “coolest astronaut ever” I basically mean “coolest person ever“, because nothing is cooler than an astronaut so if you’re the coolest of all astronauts, you’re pretty much at the top of the food chain. Need proof? Watch this.
Astronaut – 1. Rest of mankind – 0.
Need more proof? Watch Armageddon.
More specifically, watch the scene in Armageddon where all the astronauts are walking in slow motion.
I rest my case. I mean, I’m pretty sure the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” commercials were conceptualized around Chris Hadfield. (I’m also writing this as I watch Gravity). Obsessed with astronauts and outer space? Potentially.
But what I’m really trying to say is…Chris Hadfield‘s speech was by far the most memorable I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing in person. Not only did he have the most complex and eloquent answers to questions you definitely don’t hear every day, but he articulated them without hesitation, without stutter, and without filler words. More important than the flawless delivery of his answers though, was the actual substance contained within them.
When asked about what the main lesson is that he’s learned out there that he’d like to impart unto people on Earth – he said that when you’re out there, and you see all the countries scaled down right before your eyes like that, they all look the same. You see civilizations formed around rivers, you see patterns in human behavior. You see that the ways different countries colonize, although hundreds or thousands of miles apart, are very much based upon the same fundamental foundations and guidelines. All of a sudden the distance between them diminishes, and there’s no longer a sense of divide, only a sense of “WE“.
I loved that so much, and it moved me to the ends of the Earth. The question I asked him, and the answer he gave me, is a conversation for another time.
As I was surrounded by Zach, Chris, and Zach’s colleagues, I began to think about how much I missed the side of me that these people brought out…the science-y, geeky, nerdy side, that used to love pricking my own finger to examine my blood under the microscope that I asked my parents for one Christmas when I was a kid. I also began thinking about how so many of us today are thanklessly caught up in the superficial, vain side of society – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, cell phones, texting, and “selfies” galore – but we don’t even realize that these are the people at the root of it all. Without the people who build these satellites at Planet Labs and other companies, we would have no internet, no cell phones, no instagram, no websites…the list goes on. Without them, we would have literally none of the things that fuel pop culture today. Mind you, they do what they do behind the scenes, tucked away in their laboratories, requiring no thanks, requiring no spotlight. They don’t do it for the fame, they do it because they love to do it.
I have so much respect for all of them. For all the people who do what they do, so we can do what we do. In those few hours with them I was reminded of the things that really matter in this life, and trust me, they have nothing to do with “selfies”. Chris Hadfield‘s words cemented those values in my mind, and I can only hope to continue spreading the message of unification and oneness that he so clearly communicated to me/us. I’m forever grateful to him, and to Planet Labs, for reconnecting me to the deeper things in life and re-igniting the passionate fire under my ass to dig even deeper; and of course, to my incredible boyfriend Zach, for making whole this experience possible for me in the first place.
So…would you call that a successful “bring your girlfriend to work” day? ……………….I’d like to think so.
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