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The Frontier of Hope
What do you look forward toabout the future?
When I was a boy, I liked to read popular books on physics.
At the library each summer I’d pick out a selection of books that attempted to paint pictures of the implications of quantum mechanics, black holes, and the theory of relativity.
I loved how enchanted, unreal, and magical they made reality seem—while being (I trusted) mathematically true.
The deepest impression was made by the description of what would happen to a spaceship that accelerated to nearly the speed of light.
As you probably know, its mass would balloon. Time would slow.
Because of the vast distances in space, this speed limit means it would be very difficult for humans to reach far beyond Earth without some yet inconceivable advances in knowledge and technology.
For those who believe that, at some point, our destiny is with the stars, the stalling of advances in manned missions to outer space in recent decades has been dispiriting.
Not simply as a technological matter — but as an almost spiritual one. As if, in the adulthood of our civilization, we’d given up on a collective dream.
That is why every incremental step upward fills me with hope.
Space represents a return to our highest ambition as a species. It represents, to me, a step back into the realm of the metaphysical—even the magical.
Of all the frontiers of technology, space travel feels most like a calling.
In the Meantime, Here on Earth
Taking the first vacation of the year with family. We’ve returned to my favorite place: a house in a land of low, rolling, forested mountains and lakes.
While the location is beautiful, what I love is not the specific geography (northeastern Pennsylvania). Rather, it’s the human layer: it’s the one place shared most deeply among the members of my family over time.
Four generations, with branches extending laterally and vertically, have passed their happiest moments in this lake and wood.
The most meaningful places often may not be the ones that you choose, but rather those that choose you.
The exquisite extra joy now is that of passing it on to my young sons. There must be a language with a more beautiful term than “pass down” or “bequeath.” The shade of emotion missing from it is that of making a gift of what one feels is most meaningful, and seeing it adopted. You always want others to love the things you love. Of course, you cannot compel them to do it.
I’m also grateful for the change of scenery. Gazing at the forest, I feel muscles relax that I barely knew existed. It is (I think) a cliche to observe that trees have wisdom, and like most cliches this is because it is basically true.
To watch the sun set through the pines with my loved ones is all the happiness I need.
Enjoy the week. I know I will.
Until the next time,