With David Bowie’s death, many people are sharing the connection they felt to the performer and his music. Though not a big follower of Bowie, there was one song that always made my chest tighten and my eyes swell.
When you’re a kid, it’s easy to dream big. Throughout most of primary school, I wanted to fly the space shuttle. I started school in the year of the first shuttle flight, and was still relatively young when tragedy struck the Challenger mission. The toy box at my parents house probably still contains the die-cast metal space shuttle that I would fly on my simulated missions.
I’ve no idea when I first heard ‘Space Oddity’, and for a long time I actually thought the song was called Major Tom. As a kid, it really struck a chord with me. Space Oddity was probably one of the first songs I had heard that was simultaneously exciting but sad. That may be why I’ve carried the emotional impact of the song with me into adulthood,
For me, ‘Space Oddity’ has always been a song about the wonder, and danger, of space exploration. And about the courage of ‘Major Tom’. I used to try and imagine what it would feel like in that moment of “stepping through the door”. What courage would it take, especially back in those days, to step into the vast and humbling expanse of space?
There was also the question of whether ‘Major Tom’ simply chose to not come back. Overcome by the emotion of the moment – did he simply allow himself to drift off into space?
It’s too late now for me to be an astronaut, and my reflexes are nowhere near what they’d need to be to pilot a space shuttle. But listening to ‘Oddity’ this morning has been a timely reminder that you’re never too old to dream. Never too late for your Walter Mitty moment where you make your life an adventure and live the life you want, even if there’s some risks. All it takes is the courage to “step through the door” each day.
p.s. I couldn’t go past the version above on account of the space shuttle being included. But the version below from ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘ is fantastic too if you enjoyed the film.