An Astronaut of a Different Universe



When I was a child, I was fascinated by space and my biggest dream was to become an astronomer or an astronaut. When I was 4, I remember circulating the coffee table and chanting to myself; ‘who am I-where did I come from- why am I here?’ And I visualized floating out into space and I abruptly stopped my weird ceremony because I was scared that I’d float so far into space that I wouldn’t come back.

A summer when I was 5, I woke up with the very strong determination to dig my way to China in the sandbox on the playground near our house. As soon as I got out, I rounded up my friends and told them about the mission. Half way through our excavation, a scary thought crossed my mind – what if we’d dig our way past China and fall through the other side of the earth into space?! Panicky, I told my fellow astronauts — I mean, friends, to abort the mission! I repeat, abort mission! Turn back!

I was adamant to explore space, until in third grade when mum told me about NASA (don’t ask me how she knew about NASA) and how unlikely it was for a black muslim kid to be accepted to their program. I was told to look for a more realistic profession. She had her heart in the right place, she didn’t want my hopes crushed beyond repair.

For a long while I’ve made sure to stay within the lines and tread carefully. I forgot why I had to stay within the lines, but I learnt that whatever that lay beyond the fence,it had to be feared…

As such I remained until I returned to who I was before the world told me who I wasn’t. The past few years have seen me explore the space outside the lines, and although the uncertainty that lay in the darkness was scary, it wasn’t half as scary as wasting life within the lines.

Today I came across a short video on the requirements of becoming an astronaut and how to apply, and today I wasn’t afraid of getting lost in space, like I was when I was 4, or falling through the earth, like I was out in the playground– I actually sat through the video, and toyed with the thought of wearing a spacesuit. Although I don’t qualify ( you gotto be an American), I feel that being able to go into the deepest recesses of my mind and not be deterred by the fear of getting lost in it is the realization of a childhood dream – being an astronaut of my mind, exploring my inner space, my soul that holds countless galaxies.

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