In 1981, I was a junior in high school and really excited about the new space shuttle program. On my U.S. history textbook I laminated a picture of the Columbia. It was piggy backed on a landing 747 jet.
As a Star Trek fan, I loved the paradoxical implications of naming one of the shuttles "Enterprise." Back then, I didn't think I would see warp drives or ever meet a Vulcan, but I thought I might make it into space. NASA had predicted that the space shuttle would be capable of weekly or possibly daily flights. Commercial space flights were right around the corner just like in the movie "2001." And I knew I would be there on my Pan Am shuttle flight to the spinning space station.
And when I watched the first space launch in 1981, I wanted to cry. Last week as I watched the last launch, I felt the same. The shuttle is soon to be part of our collective history and part of mine. NASA is retiring the shuttle and as I look at myself, well, my hair has left me like the tiles off the shuttle. I have a belly and it's a little harder for me to get up when I've been sitting on the floor for a while. I'm only in my late 40s and yet I am getting older.
Social Security now has a poster with the present day George Takei, Lt. Sulu, clad in his circa-1960s Federation tunic. The poster reads, "Go Boldly."
If anything, the last shuttle flight reminds me that time for everything is finite and I am only here until I am not. And while I may not always live up to my highest ambitions, I will do my best and try to correct my mistakes, like a backward lens on the Hubble telescope. Regardless of how old I might get, I refuse to retire my youthful outlook or my excitement about the future.