Spaced out.AsI glared out of the tinted yellow glass of my space suit’s life supportinghelmet for the first time in my thirty years of life, it felt as if time momentarilyceased to exist as i absorbed my surroundings and pondered on everything I oncethought about space and how desperately i wanted to see it through my own eyes.I remembered how photos and videos of space made me feel a sense of hope andbelonging to some kind of divine energy.
The photos made me feel, for somereason, as though human beings were alive for a purpose greater than we could evercomprehend. The idea of an everlasting universe made the hairs on my body rise,not due to fear, but rather because of utter admiration. I was fixated with apreconcieved idea that the universe was the equivalent of heaven, an absoluteutopia.
Myown weighty breathing broke my daydream as it shifted my mind from pondering onpast thoughts to remembering the present life threats that stood before me dueto the limited amount of oxygen my spacesuitcould provide. As i snapped back to reality, my conciousness grew irate withitself for ever having thought space was anything more than a beautifullydecorated black-hole filled with clouds of gas and dust that collapse andcollect together to form what us humans think is so magical: the stars and theplanets.AsI took one more lengthy stare before having to return to the paper-plane-shapedspace shuttle, i realised how drastically my perception of space had changed.
Fromthinking the universe gave life a purpose to witnessing first-hand the truthbehind this stereotype: The universe is Blackness, infinite blackness. There beforeme, the universe stretched into the distance, a blanket of blackness—blackerthan hate. All that the universe portrayed was wave upon silent wave ofunresponsiveness.I then noticed, in the distance, lost among theconstellations of stars, a blue speck—my home. Everything and everyone I everknew existed on that speck. Every dream, every thought, every hope, and everyemotion I or anyone else had ever experienced took place on that speck.
Earthseemed so touchingly fragile against the monstrous blackness of space. Awandering comet or a raging meteor could so easily smite it out of existence.And yet life has thrived for millions of years on that blue speck, untouched bythe dangers of the universe. This thought catalyzed the beating of my heart.
I could hear the distant calling of my name from one of my fellow astronautsand I knew that I had one last fleeting second to take it all in. In that second,all sound ceased while I contemplated the mysteries of the universe one lasttime: countless stars, powerful novas, and colossal planets… but the mostmysterious object of all—a black hole. I knew lurking in the depths of deepspace was a monster to beat all monsters, a celestial bogeyman known as a cosmicvacuum. The thought that nothing could escape the clutches of a vacuum filled mewith a sense of terror. There could be nothing more horrifying, even in thedarkest corners of Hell. I began to feel hideously claustrophobic. I felt likeI was in some cosmic coffin.
My palms grew sweaty. My bones throbbed. Mymuscles quivered.
I felt an odd sensation in my feet—and then in my head. Atthat moment I felt more lost, isolated, and vulnerable than I had ever feltbefore. Space, what a beautiful mess it is.