Some might call it lazy, but I call recycling this July 2012 post (first shared here on the day after Sally Ride’s death), on the eve of the anniversary of her historical trip into space, a fitting tribute. If Sally “Breaking Barriers” Ride doesn’t deserve a second post, who does, people? Who does? As NPR said this morning, “She was a physicist who took a detour through space.” And changed everything.
When I was very little, before I really understood what my dad did for a living, I used to tell people who’d ask that he was an astronaut. Even after I realized that wasn’t true, that there were no manned space missions in my father’s past, present, or future, I still said it on occasion to my elementary school classmates who couldn’t possibly know better.
When your dad spends his days and nights stargazing, you come to feel a certain ownership over the Universe. Not a God-like ownership, more of a time-share condominium type of arrangement: It’s not yours and yours alone, but you do have a connection and a stake that not everyone can claim; you have a special relationship, the Universe and you. You feel the way the citizens of Green Bay feel about the Packers, I suspect. And the other people who share this unique ownership, well, they’re family.
And while I never personally aspired to be an active family member — to don a spacesuit and follow that uncharted course, exploring solar systems near and far or walking on the moon — when I was ten years old, my cosmic sister Sally Ride showed me and a host of other girls that we could if we wanted to. We could dream big.
Sally Ride died yesterday. She was only sixty one years old, which means she was barely thirty when she changed the world. Just before her 1983 mission, the first for an American woman, she was quoted as saying, “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.” I’m going to spend some time thinking about her today. Thought you guys might want to, too.