“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” ~ Star Trek title sequence
Perhaps some of the most famous words uttered in regards to space and it comes from a science fiction television series. However, they capture the spirit of discovery and exploration. Space may be the final frontier but exploration and discovery is as old as humanity itself. One could argue that it began the moment Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, or, if you are so inclined, when mankind first left the proverbial cave or walked out of the jungle. We have been exploring ever since. Jesus spoke of exploration when he says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)
In the History Channel miniseries “America: The Story of US”, the narrator states in the introduction, “We are pioneers. We are trailblazers…” That is the story of America, but not just America, but of all civilization. From Eric the Red to Zheng He to Columbus to Neil Armstrong and current astronauts and oceanographic explorers we have sought new lands, new routes, and new knowledge.
Curiosity is at the core of exploration and discovery. We are curious about what is around the next turn, beyond the next rise, hill, mountain, or behind the next building. Without curiosity, an infant would not crawl, would not eventually get up and toddle around a room touching everything it can touch. Birthdays and holidays would hold no meaning. It is all part of discovery and exploration. Curiosity motivates us to seek that which is greater. It inspires us to pursue goals for the benefit of all mankind. It makes us better people. Exploration is not just the sphere of the ship’s captain, the diver, or the astronaut. It is also the domain of the scientist, the doctor, the artist, and anyone who has two working brain cells.
In preparing this, I began by trying to research the concept of exploration in lofty, idealistic terms and was reminded of something Ronald Reagan said when memorializing the Challenger disaster in 1986. He said, “…they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'” He later noted that he remembered this from a poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a young 19 yr old American aviator who died during World War Two on a training flight in England. Reagan had heard this poem during World War Two. The poem’s title is “High Flight”. Anyone who is a pilot will recognize it. Allow me to post the entire poem for your edification:
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Exploration is continually striving for the unattainable. Not because we cannot attain it, but because once we attain it, we seek the next challenge. We never stop. Nor should we ever stop.
Here’s to all the explorers: from the newborn infant to the person on their death bed and all those in between. For the next few weeks, we will be exploring quotes on exploring, space, discovery, curiosity, and other related topics. May your thirst never be quenched. May your eyes always be set upon the next star.
New quotes will begin Sunday, September 29th, 2013. I hope you join me in this adventure.
The Bible, Luke 2:8-11 (KJV)
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