Wednesday morning I woke up in a quiet hotel on the coast of Padre Island in Corpus Christi, turned on CNN and sat riveted as scientists explained the calm but nervous expressions of the people in the a European control room. They were waiting to see if the probe they sent out years ago had landed successfully on a comet. Within five minutes, there were high fives, hugs, smiles as wide as Andromeda: they had succeeded.
The talking heads were poised and ready to comment on this human victory, to spew incredible details about landing a small module on a body moving 140,000 mph, on how the comet has (relatively) only a pinky finger’s worth of the gravity on Earth’s heavenly body. But what moved me more than anything was the statement about the trial and error, the thankless saga of these science devotees who gambled entire careers on the hope that the work therein would payoff. That the misfortune of a bad launch meant the choice of a different comet and then two years more of waiting for a replacement host. That the power on the probe would run out if they did not turn it off in the meantime and hope that when they were ready they could re-engage it.
I am awestruck by the largess of faith and investment these scientists were able to make.
It made me feel much better about my work in Texas this week. I had made a slew of give-back commitments based on the originally scheduled dates for my boss’s “Dressed to Kill” tour, including a round-robin Q&A for dance students at the University of Texas (Austin), a master class for the division of dance at State University of Texas (San Marcos), and master classes at Teffany’s Dance Studio in Corpus Christi. Making good meant researching and booking flights, arranging car rentals, re-routing a box of #TossintheEthers that were meant to land on the tour opening in Lubbock, TX, and driving seven hours in a 24-hour period, among other things.
Since all of my engagements were rewarding, and my imaginary assistant (alterego) Trisha did a good job with logistics, I did not complain. But watching the CNN report about the production staff of this asteroid drama left me no space to (pun intended). It reminds me that there are people who sacrifice galaxies of time and energy for tiny bits of achievement. Of course parents are on the list too, which is why I was determined to offer an assuaging conversation with them about their kids in dance. But with any luck, the kids grow up and give back, unlike this comet, which may refuse to cooperate and then disintegrate without concern for twenty years of investment…
So far so good. I love the beauty of human beings celebrating in different tongues the joy of a human triumph against the mystery of space, which really does put our trifles of war in perspective. Hopefully, the human aspect extends even further into what I long to express to those scientists is an even bigger vestige of their efforts: inspiration.
I got to take it with me to teach two classes that day, and its tail is still hanging around...