My life can be summed up by this one sentence: “Well that didn’t go as planned!”
If you’ve read any of what I have written, you’ll surely have noticed that this past January I was quite excited to let everyone know that I had been selected by the SeaSpace Exploration and Research Society to be one of their 20 candidates for their Citizen Scientist/Astronaut team. Needless to say, I was quite excited. Afterall, it had always been my dream since as far back as I could remember to be an astronaut. To suddenly be offered a shot at my dream-come-true…? Well, of course I jumped at the chance. Seriously! Who wouldn’t? Even though it came with a hefty price tag: $12,500 for the training, 25% due at the start, the rest in monthly payments of approximately $400 for most of the next two years. Whew! Not something to sneeze at, for certain. What to do?
Right or wrong, make a decision. So I took a deep breath and plunged in. I was excited, I was pumped up, I was in it 100% to win it, as the saying goes. However it all played out, at least I would know that I had given it my best shot. In life it is easy to sit on the sidelines and be a nay-sayer, putting down every bold opportunity as a failure waiting to happen, so why bother? But, if you do that, you’ll never get anywhere. You’ll always be on the sidelines, watching life pass you by, with you going nowhere. Sometimes, you’ll make the right decision. Other times, not so right. This time? Well, let’s say it could have been more right than it was.
Don’t get me wrong! It wasn’t completely wrong. Some good did come from it, but we’ll get to that shortly. The condensed version of this little epic is that, despite best intentions of all concerned, sometimes things just do not work out like you planned at all. And this was a great example. A good diea, poorly planned and executed. After six months and almost $4000 of not only my money, but donatations from friends, family, and strangers, it was abundantly clear that the training program simply was not going to be able to deliver on its goals and promises. Rather than pouring more money into the hole, I opted to take an offered refund and depart the program.
I’m sure there must be one or two of you reading this who are snickering and saying “Well! We could have told you that!” Yes, you could have. Heck, I told myself that on Day 1. But, right or wrong, I made a decision. It might have been wrong, but this is one squirrel that isn’t flat, at least. A little wiser, a little more learned, certainly. All in all, a learning experience that reminded me of an important lesson: there are no shortcuts to your dreams. Or, as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote: “Shortcuts make for long delays.”
I hinted above that not all was lost. There were some positives I could walk away with: 1) I made some amazing connections in the space sciences community in this brief time, one of which led to me being selected to work with a new science research company, Deep Space Ecology LLC. I have been appointed their manager for Field Operations. They are creating new technologies and methodologies for closed ecological systems to support human habitation in extreme conditions. Our primary focus is human colonization of Mars. 2) I met some really bright and innovative people during the short time I was with the SeaSpace project. One of them, who also opted to leave at the same time as I, runs a marine biology consulting firm, where I will be assisting them as they merge their traditional ground-based work with space-based observations. It should be quite challenging.
What else am I doing? I’m back on track to my real dream: furthering my education as I pursue my PhD in Astronomy. A six-month delay, no more, was all I suffered. This October I start my post-graduate degree studies with the University of York. I intend to throw myself into it 100%. No shortcuts, no quick end-runs to the finish line. Hard work, studying, diligence to detail. That’s this squirrel’s next decisive decision. I think this one is the right one. But, right or wrong, I’ll have made a decision. You won’t find me squashed flat on the Road of Life.