I overheard the refrain of a song blasting from a neighbor’s car parked in front of my house. The part that stuck in my head said, “Like a rocket ship in the galaxy, We were back where we belong.” I asked my neighbor the name and artist of the tune, he said it was called “Rocket Ship” by the English band, “Take That”. Later, while the refrain played itself inside my head, the idea ocurred to me that a life is like a rocket ship.
There is the obvious analogy of speed. You might think of the hypothetical spaceship that travels near the speed of light. If you’re flying in that ship, you supposedly live out your life in a normal pace. Life doesn’t seem to be speeded up. However, when the ship returns to Earth, you learn that your peers have lived out their years and died. Where did the time go? It’s probably a good thing that we haven’t learned how to travel at “Warp Speed”.
Yet, if you sit down and examine your life, you’ll wonder at how life has passed by so quickly. Now and then I look in a mirror and ponder the reflection. Inside my head, I feel like a 20-something young man. Intellectually, I know more facts and have gained a bit more wisdom than I had when I was 25. The mental image, of my 25-year-old self remains intact. But when I stop and study my face in the bathroom mirror, I see the actual 60-something man looking back at me. When I think some more, I remember my family members and friends who have lived out their lives and died.
I got to thinking about the parallels between a human life and the journey of a rocket ship, the similarities are breathtaking. The ground technicians and mission control who determine the course of the rocket ship determine whether or not the vehicle will arrive at the Moon, Planet, or other destination. The trajectory prior to launch, can be adjusted by a millimetre or less. A slight tweak, one way or another will make a difference as to where the rocket ship is headed.
A similar thing can happen to a person. A simple decision, perhaps made on the spur of a moment, by that person’s parent, will make all the difference in the world where that person’s life is headed. The overall tone and attitude of that human life will continue to be influenced, in some way, by the parents’ decision.
Similarly, whether a rocket is developed and launched in Russia or in the United States will be important to the journey of the rocket ship. If a person is born and raised in Pierre, South Dakota his life journey will follow a different tack than that of somebody born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. In other words, differences at the beginning of the journey of a rocket ship or a human life will make a vast difference over time.
The course of a rocket ship can be adjusted, in flight. Depending upon how the rocket is steered and how much fuel is expended, the destination can be reached or missed. Perhaps a new destination can be the result of other steering and fuel use decisions. Time, available energy, and unforseen external events are the only restraints.
Likewise, the course of a human life can be steered and energy directed during the passage of time in life. Where you want to go and whether or not you get there depend upon how we direct our lives and how much energy we focus to arrive. If there is enough awareness, we can also change direction and focus to move towards another destination. Again, we all have time and physical energy restraints to work within. External factors aside, we should arrive or get close to our destinations.
The term for the propulsion and direction of a rocket ship’s flight is “attitude control”. No, this is not a mispelling of the word “altitude”. If mission control wants the rocket ship to arrive where the vehicle is supposed to go, attitude must be monitored and controlled. I’m surprised that self-help gurus haven’t had a field day with this analogy.
If a space probe isn’t aimed absolutely perfectly, the rocket ship will not reach its destination. To correct the trajectory, in flight, attitude adjustment is necessary. The three-dimensional positioning of the rocket ship is important. To maintain the required position, or attitude, small thrusters are used to tweak side to side motion. (There is no up or down in Space. You can only adjust from one of many “sides” to another.) With the proper firing of thrusters, the course of the rocket ship will remain on target.
It’s easy to see that a person needs some personal attitude control, too. We can monitor and fire our mental thrusters, as needed, to help ourselves remain on target as well. Our thrusters are simple and require little or no energy to fire. An attitude control adjustment can be made by deploying a smile here, an act of kindness there, or a friendly hug over there. These are very effective attitude control thrusters. They help us maintain the proper trajectory.
More comparisons can be made with rocket fuel and internal life-support systems for the rocket ship. These are determined by the degree of efficiency and overall character that are desired for the duration of the rocket ship’s flight.
There are also decisions we all make, ourselves, after launch, and during our life’s journey.