A few weeks ago on Clementine Daily, we ran an incredible interview with Mae Jemison, the first female African American astronaut to enter outer space. It’s such a monumental thing to speak with someone who has accomplished so much – with such grace – and I was amazed at the perspective she held close to her, one of dreams and hopes and the countries of Africa. I suppose when you see the world from such great heights, you can’t help but feel it’s weight.
Of all the things she shared that have been permeating my brain as of late (and there were many), it was this line that struck me most, describing what it’s like to look down on Earth and to experience the incredible distance firsthand:
“I felt like I was as much a part of this universe as any speck of stardust,” Mae wrote. “And every time I have that feeling of differentiation, I go back to that feeling of, “I’m as much a part of this Universe as any star, any comet, I have a reason to be here. I’m here and I have a reason to be here.”
Being a classic over-thinker, I often question my own reasons for being here. For being here – typing away in a corner coffee shop, people-watching and coffee-sipping and generally trying to tackle a burgeoning inbox. Am I contributing to my family, my community – to this space? Am I honoring the sheer volume of life, or am I whittling it away with every stroke of the keyboard, writing and not doing? Doing and not writing?
And then I think of astronauts, and how outer space offers little in terms of gravity. And how – sometimes – to honor life’s weight, we must become weightless. This has always been my walk on the balance beam – that tiptoeing dance between respecting life’s sheer mass but refusing to take it too seriously. To stop thinking and enjoy. To stop enjoying and think. To stop running and rest. To stop resting and run.
And then I think of Mae, of how she’s as much a part of this universe as any speck of stardust. Of how we’re all among the stars and the comets – no more, no less, and how we’re all in it together. We are living, breathing walking specks of contradicting stardust, floating about, tethered to each other by our inability to carry life’s weight alone.
We are here, and we have a reason to be here. Some days, we’re here for gravity: for offering hugs and sending flowers, wiping tears and making the hardest of choices. The others, we’re here for levity: for tickling toes and throwing parties, brewing tea and building sand castles.
We’re here for the gravity and the levity, the heavy and light. Without one, there is no balance. But without both? There is no weight.
p.s. On looking.