on working hard and kindness
I don't hide the fact that I'm a NASA geek. I love the space program. My favourite movies include Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff. I lost my mind on Twitter in 2014 when the Rosetta probe landed on a comet (landed. on. a. comet. My mind is still blown). When I had the opportunity to have a private tour of Mission Control last year, I was literally quivering with excitement. There is just something about the space program that is just so optimistic. It's all about adventure, and curiosity, and attempting the impossible that I just love.
So when Saturday evening, I saw an alert I hadn't seen before that the International Space Station was about to fly right over our house (and we'd had a cloudless day), I shouted to Marcus and Alex that we needed to go outside right now this very minute. So we did.
And as we searched the night sky, we saw it: a bright star, moving from the low horizon, right over our house, and then quietly disappearing from sight.
And as we watched, I thought: up there, 249 miles above us, there are 6 astronauts, isolated from everything that is familiar to them on Earth. I imagined at least one of them looking down at Earth, and seeing Houston through the window, and wondering how many people might be waving up at them at that very moment.
So I waved. I know they couldn't see me, but it didn't matter. It just made me feel better that at least someone was acknowledging their flyby.
Afterwards, I shared the fact that I'd just seen the International Space Station over our house on my Facebook page. Immediately, people responded. They told me about Astronaut & Flight Engineer Scott Kelly's gorgeous photographs from space, not to mention Astronaut Tim Peake's amazing shots. And I think that's the thing I love most about NASA: they're just so generous with their work. Despite being a classified agency, they share so much. And because of this, they make it easy to feel for them -- to mourn setbacks, and applaud their successes, without reservation.
They make it easy to wave and cheer like a goon on a quiet night, as they fly by.
Also this weekend was the SAG Awards -- the awards given to actors by their peers. I didn't watch the awards, but yesterday, I watched this clip of the amazing Carol Burnett receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award. Unsurprisingly, she was given a standing ovation as she walked on stage to receive her award, but the thing that I loved most about her acceptance speech is how generous she was -- that while she acknowledged working hard and doing what she needed to to break through an Old Boys' Club when it came to comedy, she generously and lovingly thanked her colleagues (both women and men) for sharing their formidable talents that helped make her variety show a success. "I want to pay tribute to my family in front of the camera," she said, before listing their names. "Their comedic chops made it all work, and I was able to do what I did because of what they brought to the table -- not only their talents, but their love."
How kind, right? How generous. I mean, let's face it: she didn't have to do that. She could have simply said it was lovely that her hard work was appreciated, and thanked SAG for the award. But instead, she made sure to include all the folks who helped her along the way in her expression of gratitude. It is no wonder, then, that she received another standing ovation at the end of her acceptance speech.
That Carol Burnett is just one classy broad.
I think often we're given the advice to own our talents and skills: to be clear about the good we do, and how we do it. And, by God, we should. We're also told to ignore the haters, as we become more successful -- and we definitely should do that. But what we're not told often enough -- in my opinion, anyway -- is the importance of generosity and kindness as we become more successful. There's a train of thought that somehow says that if we acknowledge the help we receive along the way, from bosses, colleagues, friends and supporters, we somehow diminish our own skills and abilities.
Honestly, I think that's total balderdash.
I think when you acknowledge the support you receive as you become more successful, you acknowledge your connection with the people around you, and with the world in general. You reinforce your own reasons for doing the work that you do, and I think you become more determined to continue your work, in the hope that it will make a difference. And honestly, when you thank people, you just feel happier.
So here's to your success, and especially to your kindness. And may those who support your work know your gratitude.
(And while I'm typing, thank you all who visit me here every day. Know that I appreciate every comment, every email, every share, from deep in my bones. Really, really.)
Have a great week, everybody.
Soundtrack: Thank you by Boyz II Men. Because sometimes Mondays call for joyful old school.