Star Trek in Real Time: William Shatner's Journey into Space
We may not be able to fathom just how miniscule we are. As the comfort of the Earth's blues fade into an inky blackness, the planet becomes a mere speck within a vast, endless stretch of what feels like nothing. Traveling to space is an emotional journey, an opportunity to witness what lies beyond our world and, more importantly, an opportunity to realize how invaluable this planet is.
Once starring in a film that allowed viewers to dream of a future in space, Star Trek actor William Shatner has turned his fictional character, Captain James T. Kirk, into reality. The 90-year old is now the oldest man to travel to space. Indeed, it was an experience of a lifetime. Even that is an understatement.
In a heartfelt conversation with Jeff Bezos after the rocket landed, Shatner was still in a trance.
"There is this mystique to being in space and being that much closer to the stars and being weightless," Shatner said in awe. All the possible pictures and descriptions cannot even scratch the surface of the raw experience of seeing the world through a completely different lens.
The blissful blanket of ignorance we may surround ourselves with is whipped off when one comes face to face with space: "You're staring into blackness," Shatner described, "That's the thing."
After seeing and feeling firsthand what it was like to be outside the planet, Shatner discovered how fragile our atmosphere is. The line of the atmosphere, "which is keeping us alive, is thinner than your skin," he informed. "It’s a sliver; it’s immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe. It’s negligible, this air."
Journeying up to space puts into perspective just how precious this earth is. It's a singular orb of life contrasting against the blackness of space; witnessing the transition from blue to black fills in the void of unawareness. Emerging out of the bright sphere and into the darkness is a metaphor for life and death: "In an instant, you go 'Woah that's death!' That's what I saw," Shatner recalled.
The flood of emotion was overwhelming-- feelings of admiration, empathy, wonder, and sorrow all came rushing upon him as he landed back on Earth. Admiration and wonder for the sight of the cosmos, empathy and sorrow for the death and destruction inflicted upon the planet. Species are going extinct and humankind may have the same fate.
We are on a mission to save the planet. But first, we have to care. Amidst the pitch black silence, we reside on a vivacious, colorful world. We live on an oasis for mankind, so it's time we keep it that way. With future space explorations and the enduring initiatives to save the Earth, the existence of our world can either withstand or wither away.
As Shatner expressed, "I hope I never recover from this. I hope I maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it."