Nothing is more important than what you are doing right now. – NASA Astronaut Victor Glover
I’ve been listening to Houston, We Have a Podcast (the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center) since it’s very first episode. I think that was back in 2017. I remember it was in the midst of my PhD. I was delighted to discover it, because I’ve always loved space stuff. I remember reading books about the planet Venus on the playground. (Yup, I was a very cool kid.) Houston, We Had a Podcast was such a brilliant find during a stressful time and I’ve kept listening for all these years as they invite on NASA people (scientists, engineers, astronauts) to talk about space flight.
I wanted to share with you a great episode I listened to recently…featuring (randomly) Tom Cruise.
I have no particular like or dislike for Tom Cruise. Of course, I know who he is. I know about him jumping on Oprah’s couch and that he was (is?) a Scientologist (not great). I have no opinion on his acting. But he did a wonderful job interviewing this astronaut, Victor Glover, and elements of this interview keep running through my mind. Cruise focuses on ‘the body’ during the interview and how it’s impacted by space flight. Glover is generous with his answers (and clearly psyched to be talking to Cruise, as an admitted Top Gun lover). I’ve heard a lot of interviews with astronauts (and read books by them, watched movies about them etc.) and Glover gave probably the most candid answers I’ve heard about a lot of things, including managing feelings of being overwhelmed during a space walk, looking down at the Earth with nothing beneath you but…nothingness. I get anxious just going into an IMAX theatre so the thought of going to space at all is, frankly, pretty horrifying. (Ironic, considering I’m working on a poetry collection about an astronaut…maybe we’re interested in what we’re afraid of…).
Glover shares this amazing piece of advice, that kept running through my head all week. Apparently someone told him this before he went to the International Space Station: ‘Nothing is more important than what you’re doing right now.’ The person giving the advice, a fellow astronaut, probably meant it in more of a practical way. ‘Keep your head in the game while you fix this broken piece of machinery. The rest of your tasks can wait.’ But I love it as something to think about for general life too. Just focusing on what you’re doing in this moment.
Maybe it’s because I have a lot going on at the moment, a lot of projects on the go, that this really resonated with me. Nothing is more important than what you’re doing right now. If you’re resting, rest. If you’re fixing, fix. If you’re chilling with a friend, chill.
It’s an excellent little interview overall and one that I’d recommend if you’re interested in space exploration, flying planes (I don’t know anything about planes but these guys talked a lot about ‘pulling G’s’), or how highly trained/military people handle themselves in these very stressful situations. Quite interesting!
Here’s the podcast episode if you’d like to listen. It’s titled: ‘The Body in Space’. I’d recommend all of their episodes, which can get quite technical but it’s always explained in an accessible way. And I LOVE when they have astronauts on especially. It’s usually got a very affable host called Gary Jordan (I’ve never heard a celebrity host it before). But it’s always such fun to hear about about the astronauts’ adventures. It gives those of us who would rather stay right here on Earth and read books a bit of insight into human spaceflight – how difficult, how extreme, how incredible.
Have a wonderful weekend.
I’m away on a writing residency for March 2022, so I’ll be slower to reply to comments than normal. Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading.