I didn’t always want to go to space.
I was quite happy here on earth.
There was so much for me to do here anyway.
But something changed the way I saw earth when my life turned upside down and my heart was breaking.
I needed to find my way back to living life and my reality was not enough.
My physical space was crowding me.
I needed something bigger than me.
Of course, the night sky was up there waiting for me to look at it.
I started to gaze.
And as I was witnessing space above me I started to want to witness the universe somehow from up there.
I wanted to see earth from above.
I wanted to see outside of myself and my immediate surroundings.
Further, than I can drive, than I can walk or even fly on a place.
The closest I got was when I saw a rocket launch into space.
Even though I was not on that rocket something inside my body went with it.
And since that day I look up and count the days when I get to go.
“To see the planet as a single orb in the expanse of space can change the way you feel about your life, our species, and our place in the universe.
It’s an experience currently reserved for the fortunate few who carry the torch of humanity into space.” Helen Sharman, Daniel Tani, Michael Barratt, and Jean-Francois Clervoy
Do you know what this experience is called?
It is called The Overview Effect.
Or some others call it the “break off” experience.
It is a shift in awareness that is described by many astronauts that go to space.
They feel this inner and memorable shift when they see earth from space.
It is a feeling of joy that takes away all other worries.
I think we have a glimpse of the Overview Effect when we look at the stars.
But it is just a glimpse.
When you are in space other factors also go into play in order for this break off experience to happen.
“The actual experience exceeds all expectations and is something that’s hard to put to words … It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable.” Space tourist
That is what happens at first you get this manageable feeling then it becomes even more significant that that.
It is as if you are experiencing your existence in a way you have never done before.
And some never want to come back.
“I’m coming back in… and it’s the saddest moment of my life.”
Ed White, spacewalk astronaut
It was in 1987 when Frank White studied the experiences of 29 astronauts and coined the term “Overview effect.”
But he thinks it’s not just about the view and the perspective which I truly thought it was.
It is about being in zero gravity and the flying feeling that you get.
Another earlier study that took place in 1957 mentions and suggests that it is the great heights that is responsible for this psychological effect.
This study examined a group of jet aviators flying above 13,000 and one in three had this “break off” experience.
They felt feelings of separation and euphoria.
And as Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman astronaut in space, who had also read about The Overview Effect said
“I felt like I had as much right to be in space or in this universe as any speck of stardust. I was as eternal as that.”
Don’t you just love her words? We have the right to be in space. We have the right to feel eternal while in this body.
Maybe going through devastating experiences in our lives open the doors to these “break off” experiences.
We seek to go beyond what we are.
Beyond what is right here.