Picture from nasa.gov
Earlier this week, my husband emailed me to say that he had been asked to go to a dinner for work involving an astronaut or something.... I didn't really pay attention to the details. Then he said that I had also been invited to attend. So I figured:
1. I got to spend the evening with my husband.
2. Free dinner (even if it would be bad chicken cordon bleu, a dry twice baked potato, and cold green beans).
3. Maybe I'd get to say that I shook an astronaut's hand. You know, for all those times when you get asked the frequently asked, all-important "Have you ever shaken an astronaut's hand?" question.
So, last night we went to the meet & greet/dinner and met Col. Mike Fincke.
First, let me say that he is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth (no bad pun intended) people that I've ever met. He and my husband bonded over their love of some 80s movie called Space Camp and he autographed a picture for The Padawan with a really nice message. So I was really happy and impressed with him as a person.
But he was truly inspiring during his speech at the dinner. Col. Fincke was on the Endeavour for the last space shuttle flight. He also has spent more time in space than any other American (over 380 days, I think. Should have read the fact card more carefully before giving it to The Padawan). But what was more impressive than that was his attitude and passion for his job.
Between the way he spoke about his job and the pictures and video he showed us, you could tell this man really, really loves what he does. He is passionate about it. There is no question that, when he goes to work, he is totally sold out for what he is doing.
I also loved the way that he and his colleagues on the Endeavour took such joy from their mission. Watching video of them "flying" through the International Space Station, having what looked like a race to eat floating M&Ms, and playing with water droplets in the no-gravity environment, it was obvious that they are just fascinated by what they do and truly enjoy it.
Now, don't get me wrong. These are some brilliant men who did very intricate, highly technical work while they were on their mission. But in the midst of doing the serious stuff, they could still take immense joy in their work.
How many of us can say that we take such enjoyment in our work? Maybe most days you find fulfillment, but have you taken the time to kindle the joy and the passion that should infuse our daily lives? Col. Fincke may get to do his work in space, and we may be in cubicles, or fast food restaurants, or some other seemingly less glorious work environment, but we should be able to find fulfillment and enjoyment just as he has.
It is my prayer that everyone can find the work in life, their purpose, that gives them that joy and inspires such passion, if you have not already found it. If you have found your purpose, I pray that you continue to experience that passion and that joy that the men on the Endeavour displayed so clearly.