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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Shooting for the stars

BY Sonny Orr Mar 13, 2022

As far as the stars go, I’ve traveled nearly three and a half billion miles in my life. That’s quite a distance but in the big scheme of things, it’s a mere blip on the speed radar of the universe. I remember one starry night when we were lucky enough to witness a supernova low in the eastern skies. That event probably happened thousands of years before we were born, given the distance the light of that cataclysmic event had to travel. Looking at the stars is, to say the least, a contemplative activity.

Early last summer, I sat outside gazing at the moon brighten up in the sky. My young grandson sat beside me and we talked about the moon. According to him, only aliens live up there and us humans, we live on earth. We talked about Mars, and he stated that he would go there and come back. I guess watching sci-fi with his grandpa and some internet education got him going on that. 

We scanned the sky for falling comets or dangerous asteroids that might have to be blown up. Then we decided that the moon might be closer to get to since humans have already been there. Something to do on a weekend excursion. He concluded that we might have to bring some guns just in case. But I told him that we are scarier. He agreed and noted that we have zombies, which are really scary.

We went back inside as the northern summer night wasn’t that hot and muggy and the mosquitoes were thirsty. We continued our talk about the universe and again the subject of Mars came up as my grandson elaborated for quite some time on how he was going to get it down. Even a reference to Sponge Bob drying out if we don’t get enough water popped up in his interesting and entertaining perspective of the universe. I guess reaching for the heavens is a good goal in life and getting more attainable. Hopefully, when the space hotel goes up, I can watch it on a clear night with my binoculars.

Space is an interesting place, however fraught with dangers that could appear at any moment. Your DNA and other microscopic matter in your cells could be damaged, which is what happens on earth but at a much lower level of radiation, namely sunburn. Maybe that space hotel could offer flash suntans in the spa. How brown would you like your skin? Should we start with one millisecond of exposure?

Or would you like the full spectrum tan, in which your cells get sterilized and any germs are eliminated? Taking a soothing bath in yogurt is recommended afterwards to reestablish any good bacterium in and around your body.

Probably there would be categories: first class meaning a return on a spaceship while economy would see you ejected in a small pod. Hopefully, a family member or friend would be waiting close to your splashdown target area. Otherwise, if tossed out over a bad area of the earth, like in the middle of the Himalayas, you would need a reputable country’s passport. Thankfully, Canada has enough friends on earth to make it safely back home.

Back at home, meanwhile, my little astronaut snuggles up in bed content with his possible future. Hopefully in the morning he might want to be something else, because our daily talks have become my new education. 

I briefly wonder if I was like that as a kid. But then we didn’t have that worldly stimulus that the internet brings into our homes. Nope, we could only see as far as the stone that flew out of our slingshot in terms of ballistic technology. Today, the slingshot is a technology that comes in handy during kung fu showdown fights, like the sniper who stings from a distance. But hey, maybe in a few billion more kilometres we might have that.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.