Photograph by Doug Murray, Reuters (sans Chuck...)
While the memory of the eclipse was still fresh, I started thinking about the physics and math involved in such eclipses or how to predict them. At some point I forced myself to stop. Obviously, it is possible to know when these and other celestial phenomena will occur, but concentrating on the details of it felt like stripping a work of art from its beauty by analyzing the direction of the brush and type of paint.
I came to think about this again a few days ago, at my son's fifth birthday family celebration which happened, at his request, at Chuck E. Cheese's. A machine favored by my son produced "ID" cards with coarse pictures of the person standing in front of it. One of those cards reminded me of the pure enthusiasm of discovery and excitement about space as a future, frontier or, quite simply, even just a place to be for a short time.
Wrapped with all the politics, money, agendas and just being a grown-up, anything, including something as extreme as space exploration can be filtered to have the same lackluster that the annual activity of preparing my tax return tends to have. Alternatively, looking at a card with a UFO hovering in the background of the space shuttle, listing 32 interstellar missions, intergalactic medal of honor and 7 Super Solar Bravery badges, I couldn't help but smile and remember how much out-there space still is.
With 2011 having started a few days ago and the new chapter of my professional and family life, a new year's resolution I'm committing to is remembering, if only for a short time every day, the awe inspiring meaning of space, which transcends any political agenda, any technical detail, any budget and any territorial border.