The launch of NASA’s last space shuttle made me think: Do y’all ever wish you could have a do-over with your life? (I know—there’s no obvious connection between NASA and a do-over, but hang with me here.)
I never liked math or science when I was in school, but after reading Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, I wished I had paid more attention. That book puts an entirely new—and hilarious—twist on the world of space. For weeks after I finished it, I was on NASA’s Web site, watching NASA TV and reading about the International Space Station.
In fact, it was so interesting to me that I wondered why I had convinced myself in school that I couldn’t excel in those fields. At one point, I can remember wanting to be an architect, but I dismissed that whole career option because there might be too much math involved. What a wuss!
What makes a person torpedo their own lives like that? Throw away possibilities just because they think they can’t do something? I’ll be watching my daughter to make sure she doesn’t do the same thing. Instead of picking a career by process of elimination—weeding out all the things she thinks she won’t be good at—I hope I can teach her to figure out what she really loves, and then figure out how to make a career out of doing it.
Maybe that’s why people write. To give themselves an opportunity to live a different life through their characters. Did you ever wish you were young and single and living in New York City? Your heroine can do that. Or be a member of the aristocracy in England? You might not be able to, but your character can.
Let’s have a do-over. Who do y’all want to be today?