Today I listened to a Fresh Air segment hosted by Sam Briger. Mr. Briger interviewed retired astronaut, Chris Cassidy, about his starring role on the Disney Plus series Among The Stars which chronicles his last mission to the International Space Station. They discussed the joys and concerns that occur on missions to space including seeing 16 sunrises and sunsets each day and the thrill of walking in space.
At the end of the segment, they discussed NASA’s goal of sending astronauts to Mars and that, as opposed to the race between the US and USSR for putting a man on the moon, the trip to Mars would be a collaboration among many nations and that because of the live feeds and instant communication these days, that event will be witnessed by almost everyone on Earth in real time. When asked about why we need to go to Mars, he stated that a primary value is the boost to humanity from this shared purpose and a sense of camaraderie around the world. Mr. Briger asked him “If you were offered that job to go to Mars, would you want to take it?” Captain Cassidy replied “Oh, I’d go in a heartbeat.” After a pause, he added “It needs to be a round trip. This business of who’s going to go for a one way, I think that’s a bunch of malarkey.”
Although undoubtedly many advances in science result from the space exploration, Captain Cassidy noted the “boost to humanity” and common purpose as primary values. This reminded me of episode of Hidden Brain this summer where the focus was the role that purpose has in our lives. Studies have shown that a sense of purpose can provide stability as we face life’s challenges and can even provide for healthier and longer lives. “It buffers us against the challenges we will all confront at various stages of our lives.” The host, Shanker Vedantam added “It’s almost as if having purpose allows you to keep your eyes on the horizon, if you will, so that the day-to-day challenges that are both the good and bad tend to knock you off course a little less, because in some ways, your eyes are focused on the future.”
If you have a purpose, that’s great. If you feel like you don’t have purpose, Mr. Vedantam “identified three different pathways to purpose. In the first, purpose comes to us gradually as we pursue a passion or a hobby. It can become bigger and gain momentum like a snowball, rolling down a hill. Another pathway comes in response to a major life event, a family member gets sick and needs our help. We lose a job and have to reinvent ourselves. The third pathway is to observe someone else who has purpose and to draw inspiration from their example.”
Having or developing more purpose is not only good for you personally but it also is good for those around you.
This week’s selection is:
Among the Stars (Disney Plus)
A six-part docuseries with fly-on-the-wall access into the vase world of NASA. The series starts with astronaut Captain Chris Cassidy on a quest to get back in his space suit for one last mission – to fly to the International Space Station and help find the origins of the universe, but this quickly becomes a tale of the wider team at NASA, their roles on this mission and collective quest to succeed. With cameras stationed both on Earth and the ISS, viewers are embedded with Cassidy and the team of engineers, flight controllers and specialists who take on missions risking life, limb and reputation for the greater good of mankind.