I spent a great majority of my youth staring at the stars and imagined reaching for them. I had a poster of the astronauts that reached the moon on the wall of my bedroom till I was 20. I had hanging models of lunar modules and the space shuttle.
I have this book from my childhood that tracks what my aspirations were and every year on the line where it says "what do I want to be when I grow up?" - it says 'Astronaut' or 'Airline Pilot' or any number of aspirations.
I was a smart kid and wanted to do smart things.
"Look at your grades, I'm always after you about how lazy you are, you are nobody's future astronaut," he said to me nonchalantly.
It's amazing looking back on those years how much impact that single conversation had on me.
School Teacher. never.
Forest Ranger? too hard, too much biology. no.
By middle school, all of my greatest career aspirations were dissuaded.
Pop has been gone now for sixteen years and I'm fifty-two years old.
Every time I'm out in the country and I look up at the stars I stop and sigh, replaying that conversation like it just happened. Why did I let myself spend so many years whispering to myself, "not for me."?
I stop, rewarding myself with a big smile, realizing that childhood tape is playing in my head. I hit the firm stop button on it, take a deep breath - and I purposefully look back up at the night sky and reach for the stars.