Except from The Survivor
Unobscured by an atmosphere, the view of the stars was breathtaking. Points of light from all over the universe dotted the sky in every direction, as if someone had poked little holes in a great big cosmic blanket. They’re so numerous that you can’t even pick out constellations if you’re staring right at them. Sometimes I come up here, turn off the cockpit lights, and just sit.
My feelings about space have come full circle. I joined the air force and then NASA for probably the same reason that many people have over the years: I always found space beautiful and was attracted to its ineffable majesty and mystery. But with my first forays into the final frontier, that sense of wonder was quickly snuffed out by the weight of its crushing vastness and emptiness. Usually when people reach this realization, they get utterly demoralized by the experience. They look out into the unimaginable inky depths of the black and get overwhelmed by just how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. And I was the same way…for a time. But now I find it comforting and beautiful again. It takes the pressure off. If we’re so insignificant, then our problems really don’t mean much. Things that we’ve done don’t mean much…
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