This post is in response to the question “You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?”
As a boy in the 1960’s, I wanted so very much to become an astronaut. With my roots in science fiction already well established, it seemed to me that there could be no better job in the world (or off the world).
Sadly, my eyes betrayed me in the 4th grade. A sudden shift to nearsightedness at 20/400 vision was the death knell to my plans. There was no way I would be joining the Air Force, as flying jets as the best first step into the space program. As it turns out, it would also have been the first step into the Vietnam War which was raging when I graduated from college. Who knows what that might have brought into my life.
Now, many decades later, I have come to realize the importance of having good friends and neighbors within reach. A solid handshake or a loving hug means so much more than an exciting adventure or a chance at fame.
If I were on a one way trip to Mars, I would miss my friends pat on the back and the loving touch of my wife, children, and grandchildren. Yes, we could communicate through the ether, but that is just not the same as being in the same room. I could see pictures of the Grand Tetons or the Grand Canyon, but that is just not the same as standing there in awe of their beauty. I could look down on our beautiful blue oceans, but that is just not the same as sailing on them, smelling the breeze, listening to the wake against the side of the ship or snorkeling above a beautiful reef in the Caribbean.
“The Martian” was a great movie, but I am now content with watching and not participating. My journeys now occur in the pages of my new SF novels. In there, I can see and do almost anything and then return to the comfort and touch of my home.