There was no twinkle in her eye, nor any wry smile. Maddy was coloring the solar system on red construction paper, and she needed Papa data, Stat. “Um. Grayish, I think. And Neptune is blue.” She looked at me close with a doubting eye, as if she was thinking, “don’t be fucking with me, old man.” The little blond shuffled off to finish designing her world. One early calculation in the physics of her life…

I’ve loved space stuff since about Maddy’s age. Back then, I hung out with Jules Bergman and the Gemini astronauts. It’s always been a dream of mine to “get off this rock,” as someone in my journey once described it. For someone traveling through space and time at 2,724,666 MPH, it seems I often don’t get too far, and I spend way too much time in the past. (Time travel is so easy in your head.) That’s pretty dumb, since there’s so much here right now, and infinite possibilities ahead.

The journey can be difficult, but asteroids, black holes, the Kuiper Belt, and perhaps even the Oort Cloud aside, most of any real obstacles exist in the space between my ears. It’s funny (strange, not “ha ha”) to examine your life’s trajectory to see deviations in the arc and their causes. The Pioneer Anomaly explores how the Pioneer 10 and 11 exploratory spacecraft have been drifting slightly off course since their launches back in the early 70’s. Now, “slighty” means only 0.00386%, but in a voyage of 10 billion kilometers, that’s 386,000 kilometers off the grid. Yeah, maybe someone should have stopped to ask for directions.

I guess my point is we can all course correct to some extent. The path of our life is under our mission control. Just watch out for black holes, Oort clouds and other adversities that can appear in life at 2,724,666 MPH. Oh, and don’t look back. Objects in the mirror may appear closer, but they don’t matter.