Rocket Man Returns Home

By Melanie Gillespie

Last week, Astronaut Scott Kelly came back to earth after a record breaking 340 days in space. I always wanted to be an astronaut. But not really. I mean that gig is TOUGH. I’m made of tough stuff, but in a different way. Still, you know already how much I love space and the idea of connecting to far away planets, stars and galaxies and what learning about them teaches us about ourselves, since of course we are all made of stardust!

Kelly taught us a lot about ourselves. Sure, with all the medical tests and study, in that way, of course. But I am particularly speaking to how his communication with us all, via NASA and his twitter feed #YearinSpace, showed us a bigger picture of our miraculous home planet.

He even showed us that we can garden in space! Take that, Matt Damon! Check out a short video of what the heck he was doing up there, down at the bottom of the page.


For me the real fascination with Kelly’s story is actually more in the way it reminds us how small and fragile we each are in these precious bodies that give us the opportunity for the glorious experience of being human.

Alone, we cannot do much. Alone, we wither and die.

Together, we build monuments and nations and spaceships that travel to the stars. Together we make families and villages and tribes.

Sometimes though, together we create lots of pain and disease for each other by perpetuating direct trauma on others, our children, our partners, our communities through violence and unchecked racism and bias.

We struggle in this country with our sense of self within a frame that elevates the individual to the primary way of viewing things. The individual rises or falls on their own merits. The individual gets what s/he deserve based on effort and intrinsic worth. While there is much to celebrate in what Americans have accomplished, presumably motivated in some part through this frame, the staggering statistics of death and illness argue for a new time and a new way, taking lessons from the old ways in many cases, and shifting to a path in which we join hands with each other (and yes, with the trees too!) and help lift each other out of trauma, out of poverty, into healing and health and wholeness.

Time does not heal all wounds. And yet our wounds are often what are the beginnings of our later wonderfulness. In one way, the American individualism frame has helped us to claim our origin stories, which whether real and fabricated, in comic books, myths, movies, are chock full of terrible childhood trauma and the bizarre twisted superpowers we gain if we survive. We shouldn’t deny our trauma, our wounds. Let’s use it as fuel for personal transformation. You can do it. After all you are made of stardust just like everybody and everything else. You are a shining star and we all need your light, so shine on!

At The Science of HOPE conference coming up, we’ll have two workshops on digital storytelling, so bring your stories, professional or personal, and learn from one of the best in the country. Story Center will be offering a 75 min intro session and then for those who want to go deep, a 3 hour symposium session, for which folks will need to preregister as there will be a minor amount of fun pre-read materials. So get registered while there is still space! This topic is brought to you based on feedback from the last conference that you loved having the option of something that feeds your creative side. You’re welcome!!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poets and teachers, 13th century mystic, Rumi, combined with the exquisite sculpture of artist Paige Bradley:

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Love you!

click above to view the video at

click above to view the video at