Spaceman gives lessons for life on earth

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MCT Campus

Astronaut Kim gave Mesa students life lessons for both earth and beyond.

Amanda Kasl, Opinions Editor

San Diego Mesa College hosted a virtual event, An Evening With an Astronaut, on April 29 which included a Q&A after astronaut Jonny Kim’s initial presentation.

It was an in-depth, all-encompassing journey into the career many children want to have when they grow up, combined with the dedication and hard work it takes to get there. Though initially thought to be more about the science of astronomy, the evening took an alternate route. Kim, a former navy seal turned astronaut, spoke about life lessons, his background, space training, and the future of NASA.

When it comes to joining the NASA team, Kim gave a focused overview of the different types of training astronauts go through. It was not your average humdrum check list of menial tasks, but a full, fascinating and unabridged list of what it takes to fulfill the childhood dream.

The part of Kim’s presentation with the most exposition was definitely a close call between types of training and life lessons he has learned along the way, yet there wasn’t a dull moment. A 5-year-old could have sat through it and remained fixated.

Some of the general life lessons explored by Kim included humility, accountability, embracing failure, communication, and taking no shortcuts. While these seem like universally understood concepts, putting these values to good use is increasingly important in this time of crisis.

The types of training Kim discussed were T38 flight training, centrifuge training, geology, robotics, teamwork, and expedition training.

Most individuals, if they possessed the required knowledge and skills of an astronaut, would still be astounded by what it truly takes, and for that Kim is a commendable human. No matter who you are, or the feats you’ve conquered, many people fear what is unknown. Placing faith in unknown variables, like whether or not you would survive a space launch takes courage.

Whether you heard about Kim’s presentation from a friend, you’re fascinated by space travel, or it was offered as extra credit for an astronomy class, it contained golden nuggets of relevant and applicable life lessons. The evening was one that focused not only on achieving childhood space exploratory dreams, but also emphasized the value of playing a positive and active role in your own life.

With a multitude of abrupt changes taking place worldwide and with substantial disruptions to everyday life, it is easy to become distracted and lose sight of the future. This evening with an astronaut was a great reminder to be a decent person, one with priorities, morals, integrity, and enough resilience to work for the things hoped for. We as a society have the capability to progress in the midst of uncertainty.

The idea that lack of progression breeds stagnation is widely explored through literary works. Orison S. Marden, an American author born in the 1800s once said, “The moment a man ceases to progress, to grow higher, wider and deeper, then his life becomes stagnant.”

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin once said, “The only way to overcome your fears is to face them head-on.” At multiple points throughout Kim’s presentation, he placed great emphasis on the value of being a self-proclaimed lifelong learner. Kim’s dedication toward being open and willing to learn shows through his professional and educational accomplishments.

As the man who has been a Navy Seal, holds a math degree, was a medical doctor, and is now an astronaut, Kim has achieved by taking the time to learn, progress, be active, set goals, and overcome.

Kim once said, “If I could talk to my younger self, I would just say that the path to great things is filled with a lot of stumbles, suffering, and challenges along the way.” If all people were to operate from a mental standpoint of being a lifelong learner, and as Kim suggests, embracing failure, realizing our dreams becomes more attainable; this was a major take-away from his presentation.

The words of wisdom shared by Kim can aid in shifting our focus toward solutions rather than remaining stuck in the problem. This problem versus solution dilemma has forced society into a new way of life that, for most, is not only uncomfortable, but also scary. With a new perspective and tenacity that breeds resilience, we can, and will overcome.