Advice from Space: Nothing but Flowers
Dear Advice from Space,
How can I be more creative? I’d like to start making things, paintings or stories, or whatever. But what if I suck?
In my heart, I would really like to be a landscaper. I love trees, shrubs, and mulch and all the varieties of dirt and soil and loam. But here’s the tricky part: I have a black thumb. Any plant I’ve ever grown has died. Underwatering, overwatering, radiator-induced mold, neglect, the extreme opposite of neglect—under my watch, plants have enjoyed all manners of demise. As a child I climbed trees in my backyard and as an adult, all the limbs fell off.
I only happened into Space Astronautism by chance. As a child, I didn’t have star stickers on my ceiling, never sold greeting cards as a fundraiser for Space Camp. My closest brush with Space as a young person was riding the Gravitron at the county fair. But, as happens so often, the profession chose me. One day in my very early 20s, as I was wandering around the garden section of Home Depot, I was scouted by a recruiter who said I had the telltale physical and character traits of a Class IV astronaut. Turns out, she was right!
It may come as a shock to you, but I’m pretty ambivalent about my career. I recognize the unique privileges of Space Life. The view alone makes my prolonged isolation worth it. But in the dark of night (which, by the way, it always is) I think about the things I still want to do back on Earth.
Stampy, you might be good at some things you don’t care about. And you might struggle at things you really enjoy. The fear of sucking is very real. I guess, so is the opposite—the fear of being moderately good at something you feel pretty blah about.
From my perspective, it’s always a nice surprise to find out you have a talent for something. I was pleasantly pleased to find myself among the 2012 graduating class of Astronauts, Space and Other. Three short years later and I’m here, floating in a tin can far above the Earth. It’s a good job, with good benefits.
But I’m not ready to give up on my dreams of landscaping. I’ve come up with a few ideas to start my own business. I might, for example, specialize in hard-to-kill plants—lavender and black-eyed Susans and snake plants and that’s it. Creativity is all about constraints, right? Or I might do some studying up, read a book or two on keeping plants alive, and figure out what it is I’ve been doing wrong.
I want to keep trying. Pursuing my dreams as a landscaper is, right now, more important to me than whether or not I’m an immediate success. When I finally return home, I’m going to give it a chance.
As for you, Stampy, who’s to say what you should or shouldn’t pursue? Primarily, you. And also me. And I think you should go for it, too. Give it a try, and then another. Give it a whole month—or a whole year—of trying! Failure is a terrifying thing to face, but I can think of worse alternatives.
Advice from Space
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