“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
– Alice In Wonderland
I have always loved all things space. When I was little, I remember going to the library and getting out the same red hardback book on space until I pretty much had it memorised. I wanted to be an astronaut someday but soon realised this was a pipe dream since I used to get airsick! Since then I’ve been to both the Kennedy Space Center and the Johnson Space Center and am constantly in awe of human space exploration
Last week New Wimbledon Theatre put on An Evening with Chris Hadfield. Chris Hadfield is a retired Canadian astronaut who was the first Canadian to walk in space. He is also the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, a New York Times bestselling author and a YouTube sensation for his ‘Space Oddity’ music video and other videos showing life on the International Space Station (ISS).
I hadn’t actually been to the New Wimbledon Theatre before but it’s a beautiful building, both inside and out.
Hadfield talked for an hour and a half like a seasoned pro and I was enthralled the entire time. When he was a small boy he used to read comics about spacemen and wish he could be them, with their cool uniforms and space ray guns. When you look in the mirror what do you see? As a boy, he used to look in the mirror and see a spaceman but he didn’t know how to make it possible. Then in 1969, he along with millions of others watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon (albeit on a neighbour’s TV surrounded by half the street). And from then on the impossible was possible. If you believe anything is possible, you will take the steps to make it happen. And that is what Hadfield did, despite the fact that there wasn’t a Canadian Space Agency at the time. He became a pilot, then a test pilot and earned a Masters degree in aviation systems; his aim was to become the person with the necessary skills to be recruited as an astronaut.
Eventually his chance came and a small advert appeared asking people to apply to be an astronaut and the rest as they say is history. His story is an inspiring one. We should all be looking in the mirror and making moves to become the person we see in our reflection. We should all be telling little kids that anything is possible so they grow up believing it so.
Hadfield then told the story of Henry Royce and how Rolls Royce was formed.
“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.”
– Henry Rolls
Rolls saw one of the first cars and thought it was awful. He resolved to make a much better version, met Charles Stewart Rolls and from humble beginnings, Rolls Royce grew and became what it was today. There are companies constantly challenging the impossible – SpaceX saw that the rockets that help launch missions into space were designed as single use and are therefore developing a rocket that can be re-used after take off. They are currently testing launching a rocket they have designed and trying to get it to land back on a target and they’ve managed it. This idea of constantly challenging the impossible but believing it to be possible was a thread running through the entirety of Chris Hadfield’s speech and one which will stick with me. It definitely left me thinking and next time I tell myself I’m not going to do or try something because I won’t achieve it, I will endeavour to change my view to one where “the sky is not the limit.”