If you would have asked me eighteen years ago what I would be doing with my life eighteen years from then, I would have told you that I’d be traveling through space. As a little kid, I would have told you that I’d be an astronaut.
When you move from place to place, you leave different versions of yourself behind. To the people who knew you at particular places, these versions of you are always the same. They’ll always be the images of a someone who wasn’t quite sure how to clean his room, or wasn’t that great at talking to girls, or didn’t know how to find the square roots of big numbers. They’ll always be the images of someone who wanted to go to law school, wanted to travel the world, wanted to follow the rules.
People remember you in specific ways. And those ways – of which there are many – vary greatly. The evidence of that lies in the questions you’re asked by different friends about different dreams, different times, and different memories.
There’s always a version of you left behind. Maybe it’s a silhouette of old habits and expressions. A footprint that your foot’s outgrown. Perhaps it’s more accurate than that. Maybe that old shadow still fits the shape of your body.
If this idea is true, which, at least partially, I believe it to be, then a question arises.
Which version persists?
Is it the one who dreams of seeing the world? Or the one who stays home on the weekends?
I guess one way to answer that question is to say that all of these versions, at on time or another, were real. In that truth, they all persist always. A different and quite opposite answer would be that we are always changing, so nothing persists. We are never the same, and in that there is no version that can ever accurately describe us.
But a part of me is distinctly unsatisfied by either answer. They have no clear identity. Some part of me just needs to know that there’s an enduring image.
So, I looked to the only place where an answer like this could be. The past.
And I think I found the answer.
I’m an astronaut.
I’m an astronaut traveling through space looking for something to inspire me. I’m flying this way and that, seeing what there is to see, and trying to make sense of it all. I’m wandering around worlds – both my own and others – wondering where I fit in.
I’m an astronaut. That version of me is my own. And it will persist. Forever.