This evening, I had one of those moments when it all hit me. I took my 2 1/2 year old daughter outside for one last spin before bedtime in hopes of helping to wind her down. As these nights tend to go, the fresh air ends up more of a pick me up than anything, but its worth seeing her perk up with enthusiasm for the outdoors and the questions that follow are priceless.
She knows 'the moon' well, and was eager to point it out to me tonight. When I asked if she wanted to visit the moon someday, she looked at me with incredibly confusion strewn on her face and said 'what?'. I asked again, and explained that a people have actually been to the moon.
She was awestruck.
I went on to ask her how someone might get to the moon, and she replied with 'airplane'. Pretty good for a 2 year old. I explained that that was excellent, but it's actually a spaceship and was much cooler than an airplane. She went on to explain that it was too far away to visit, but then I offered to go with her, which seemed to sway her interests. The sparkle in her eye was the gateway into her little neurons working on hyper-drive.
My point is this - while we strive our hardest to do quality science and advance technology, at the end of the day, perhaps the most significant of contributions that can be made by the exploration community is encouraging creative thinking and inspiring social change.
I see the world very differently from many of my neighbors and even colleagues, and it took a very long time of combating self-doubt to realize that different isn't a bad thing. Substantiating my novel perspective on the life aquatic and more broadly our role here on the Blue Planet came with time and time alone, constantly and consistently challenging myself and marching down the path of constant inquisition to find my way. That path lies within each and every one of us, and is something that we indeed need to nurture from a very young age - before being swallowed by normalcy.
Change only comes from shooting for the moon. The one guarantee along the ride is failure, but the act of rising through those failures is the absolute definition of success.
Our biggest responsibility as explorers of frontiers yet known is to engage, inspire, and evoke thought. In the end, the science can dead-end; the technology becomes out dated; but the stories that promulgate for generations keep us ever-evolving and moving forward.
Those that explore hold the largest social responsibility for our species.
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