Hudson Valley Blog: I’m the Rocket Man!
Space: the final frontier! Ah yes, the voyages of the Starship Enterprise of the famed Star Trek series—you know, to boldly go where no man has gone before and all that jazz. I’ll just say right off the bat and maybe garner (some may say warrant) mean-spirited sentiments that although Star Trek is an excellent and expanded series, I am more of a Star Wars guy. Even though the new Don of the Star Wars franchise ruffled a lot of feathers with his vision of the Star Trek galaxy I dare I say that I actually like his take on it. To be fair, it could be because I know next to nothing of what the Star Trek universe consists of, so please, be gentle.
I enjoy his films in the context of his filmmaking styles and techniques, sans the lens flare, of course. The point of this is not to incite debate on whether or not the choices and/or skills of Mr. Abrams are questionable or justifiable. No, this is my own mission, having chosen and accepted to do so, to partake in the question: If I had access to a rocket ship, where would I go?
Let me set the scene…
My wife and daughter are out of town visiting family in Upstate, NY. After getting home from a long day of work, I kick off my shoes, grab a cold one and sprawl my near-lifeless body onto my cozy and plush couch. Not having cable, I divulge in the massive task of going through the vast yet somehow limited Netflix library, of which I can never decide what to watch. And as luck would have it, I fall asleep while perusing the Science Fiction catalog.
Then, I hear it. The sounds of mechanical jargon, going-ons, and hisses seep through my ears, and an explosive thud awakens me with a jolt! I look around my living room, frightened and trembling with fear. Has someone just broken into my home? Or was that the sound of something massively expensive going wrong from somewhere within my home, which, of course, like many homeowners I’m sure, I dread!
I get up and check the basement. Check! All is well. I run upstairs—could the roof have fallen? Nope! Then, I hear another sound. It is a harsh gasp and a long hiss! It came from the backyard. Quickly, I dart back towards the stairs, tumbling down like a klutz and trying my hardest to avoid stepping on my daughter’s toys strewn about, which consist mostly of hard plastic. Avoidance is naught, as I think I step on every one of them. The pain when stepped on? Excruciating!
When I reach the landing, I turn towards the darkly lit corridor and rush into the dimmed kitchen. More toys on the ground. I turn into the kitchen and approach the sliding doors shaded by coarse Venetian blinds. There is something just beyond them. I can hear it. I pull them apart and stare into the vast darkness just beyond the glass pane. Gray smoke repels in all directions as it fails to penetrate my face against the see-through panels. When the fog clears, I hear another gasp, rather, a gulp as this one comes from within. There before me, right in my backyard, stands a magnificent, reflective silver structure, its cone peak soaring above the treetops in the background. It is a rocket ship!
Cautiously, and clearly, with no presence in mind, I open the sliding doors and approach the ship. My feet crunch atop of burnt grass, and as I reach the ship, a hidden door slides open with a hiss. A plot of stairs forms its way towards my direction and lands just a step or two ahead of my feet. I wait, penetrated by both fear and paralysis. Thoughts of a giant, alien being with dull yet savoring eyes clenching an unearthly book with the inscription To Serve Man invades my mind. Was this the coming? And more importantly, why had I not put on my shoes? I climb the stairwell towards the open mouth of the ship, and there, taped to the side of a steel panel just before the entryway, is a note. It reads:
And there it was. The age-old, proverbial question that any space/explorer aficionado would love to be asked. No strings attached, just a round trip ticket to go, well, wherever. To boldly go where no man has gone before! I hold the note in my hand then tilt my head back, my neck stretching as far back as it could to assess the scope and magnitude of the ship better. My assessment? Massive! As I look toward the heavens just past the ship’s nose cone, the stars above me gleam and twinkle as if calling, beckoning to me. It is a bedazzling sight to marvel, the fear within dissipating and curiosity swelling in my noggin.
I think about John Glenn, first American launched into orbit, and Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the surface of our little cousin, the moon, and try to envision what they must have thought and felt. The plethora of emotions must have been acute, to say the least. I guess I could say that this same feeling that brings such passion and joy to some can be a sense of dread for the others—the fear of the unknown! Matt Damon (The Martian), Val Kilmer (Red Planet), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Total Recall) and Liev Schreiber (Last Days on Mars) spring to mind, and their travels to our neighbor, the red planet, Mars, was anything but pleasant. The trips were memorable but not anything that would warrant an appetite for another voyage. Matt Damon’s The Martian, perhaps, may be the equivalent of what would be construed as semi-plausible plot-wise, sans the possibility of something like that happening anytime soon (I could be wrong, though). Still, it seemed like authentic science was used, but then again, I am gullible and do not know nearly enough about the intricacies and science presented in the film. What can I say? I’m a drone being driven by Hollywood. What I did know, without a doubt, is that most of the science went over my head and I “believed” what Mark Watney (Damon) said, that- he was an astronaut botanist and mechanical engineer after all. And they’re smart, right? Had that been me, the movie would have been a hell of a lot shorter.
2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, Interstellar and Event Horizon are all films that take us far beyond the reaches of our galaxy and give us a creative vision of what might be out there, and for the most part, it is quite frightening. Are these the things that await me? Is there anything out there? I would say yes. I mean, there has to be! If not, it would be an awful waste of space.
I look at the very earthly note in my hand: Where to? Realization sets in. Am I up for this? Is it worth the trip, the risk? This one question spawns an array of other issues to which I am not equipped to answer. Fear, thrill, excitement, dread and a grumbling, unsettling feeling stir in the pit of my gut. I look beyond the open doorway and peer into the dark abyss. What lay just beyond?
Through the Hole
- The unknown
Where I Stand
Regrets are listed on both lists simply because I can either walking or not walking through the door. When I look at the shortlists on either column, I come to a realization, self-awareness. I tend to lean more towards the “Where I Stand” list, and that has not made me happy. Sure, I have taken risks in my life, some big ones, some not so big. But is taking a risk as big as taking a leap? In my mind, there is a correlation in that a leap can be construed as a risk, but a risk is not necessarily a jump. A risk can be as simple as trying that new flavor of ice cream on the menu, risking not liking it and short-changing your pockets. Then, there is the uncertainty of starting your own business venture! Now, that is a leap, to some at least, because there is so much involved that can affect yourself as well as others! That is something that I would deem a leap! This leads me to want to lean more towards the “Through the Hole” column. Not because I want my actions to affect my nor my loved ones but, rather, I want to be able to do something; take chances and embrace regret from both sides of the spectrum—to regret having and not having done something, anything! If I don’t try and fail or succeed, I would never know what the feeling would be like, and that, my ladies and gentlemen, takes away the wonder, what ifs, should haves, could haves, would haves and doubt. With doubt comes hesitation, fear, and distrust in yourself and others—negativity. These are all things that need—must—be dispelled from our beings to progress and advance. It is something that I have to partake in, as I too am guilty of this.
The humming of the ship reverberates throughout my body; I can feel it shaking me to the core. It’s my fear, my excitement, my ambition. The ship awaits; the journey ahead looms. Or I can stay and live with regret. I take a step forward, stopping at the threshold of the opening. I take one more step, and my foot lingers just above the incline within the doorframe.
This is my moment to decide where I stand, or do I go through the hole and become the Rocket Man? Adventures abound!
What would you do?