Fate hangs in your hands.
You are 7 years old. Your bedroom is plastered in glow in the dark stars; bright posters of the different planets are arranged on each side of your bed. They almost overshadow the piles of space exploration books you have stacked on your shelves.
You dream of becoming an astronaut.
One bright and early morning, you climb onto the school bus and tell your best friend, Danny, about your big dream. “Danny, I’m going to become an astronaut!” Danny turns to you with a mouth full of vanilla wafers and proceeds to tell you that his “big brother wanted to do that, too, but all the high school teachers told him to become something more realistic.” Apparently becoming an astronaut was a very hard thing to do.
So when you go home, you tell your mother that Danny’s brother couldn’t become an astronaut. And she replies, “Well, son, very few people get to be astronauts. You have to be very smart. And even then, most of those people are very lucky.”
The next day, at recess, you see the moon hanging in the middle of the daytime sky. Your stomach tingles with an odd feeling, but you ignore it and continue playing.
Over the next few weeks, you begin to think less and less about space. Your thirst just fades. After a few months, your old books have collected dust, and your parents donate them to the library. Years later, you spend your time hanging out with your friends and participating in activities for your school. You begin to develop a whole variety of interests.
Your life was radically different than it used to be. Things had come up – great things, terrible things. You know, life. You got your first girlfriend – your second – a family member got sick – you joined some college organizations – you got a scholarship – your dog died – you gained some friends – you held your first job.
Years later, you’ve accepted a job as a purchasing manager for a supply company. You have a son on the way, and you know it’s time to settle down. As you’re driving to work, the radio is discussing a space exploration company – one of their rockets crashed. You shake your head and change the channel to something more productive.
And seven years later, you’re laying next to a campfire with your son. Crickets chirp as you both stare at the night sky. You’re explaining space to him – his eyes sparkle in the moonlight as he drinks in your every word.
Then, without hesitation, he turns to you and asks, “Can I become an astronaut?”
What do you tell him?