Sunday, 15 September 2013

(6) The Illusion of Free Will - Taffanaut Regained

We think we are in control. In 2013, not for the first time in my life I made a decision that started a chain of events when I entered the Lynx Space Academy competition for a chance to win a trip into space. I managed to beat over 87000 other contestants and made it into the last 250 to take part in the live challenge but I didn't make it any further. The live challenge wasn't what I had imagined it would be. It was an elimination process designed to favour younger fitter contestants. This isn't 1969 when chisel jawed heroes from dinosaur empires risked their lives to take Man's first step on the Moon. This was the 21st century, the commercialisation of space, the second step when space travel would ultimately become just another daytrip. Space travel should be inclusive to all. When I knew I had been eliminated from the Lynx Space Academy live challenge I stayed around until the end of the event.

We think we are in control. I wanted to see if they guy who got lost on the assault course would find his way out of the shopping centre. I wanted to see what would happen to the guy in the wheelchair. Secretly I hoped an underdog would to do well. I wanted some of the women or some of the older guys to get through but they didn't. I deserved and needed to fail so that I could feel empathy with all these strangers. Clicking my red shoes to take me back to some kind of normality was no longer an option after that day.

We aren't in control. It is an illusion. We are no more in control than an insect that loses the fight in a petrol rainbowed puddle in a failed attempt to reach another bunch of flowers taped to a lamppost at the side of the road. We are 6 billion people in a goldfish bowl world hurtling through the void, trying to play the part and fit in, scuttling off to get our secret fixes to try and make it through the week, trying to cope with the futility of existence, growing up, growing old and letting go of dreams, trying to give our kids a better chance in life than they had because maybe they might be the ones to achieve their dreams. We burn so bright and fade so fast.

I wasn't in control. Everything I ever did, from watching the first step on the Moon, to becoming a geek, trying to overcome my fear of heights, failing in the competition, to just being born Welsh has led me stumbling towards my destiny. Tonight I am ripping words from my bleeding brain to remotely paint pictures in your head like some kind of long distance Vulcan mind meld, to try and make you see why I had to make a stand.

Take a break, look around you so you can remember where you were when you read this.
I want you to remember these words because in years to come people will still be talking about this.

Once again I stand trembling on a precipice both excited and terrified at what lays ahead, ready to go public with my plan and let it be judged. You will help decide whether I succeed or whether I fail. I am ready to sacrifice my anonymity, reluctantly but of my own free will. This is my gift before I fade and return to dust and join my father.

I do this not because it easy. I do this not only for all those who took part in the Lynx Space Academy and failed but for everyone who has the wrong kind of Monday morning feeling but somewhere inside them their dream still smoulders ready to be ignited. Mine is burning like a beacon in a world where hope is a rare commodity. Take the first step. Do not fade away. Do not go gentle into that good night. 

I want to help raise money for and raise the profile of Welsh universities to help inspire today's youngsters to turn to the dark side and become geeks to help take the next steps into space, to Mars and beyond.

I want to be the first Welsh born person in space because I am a nobody from a nowhere town and if I can make it into space then maybe, just maybe, anyone can achieve their dreams.

I await your judgement.

I accept my fate.