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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

Becoming an Astronaut

I woke up this morning and realized I am an astronaut. I was sent to this new world with a young four legged creature and a male human traveling companion. I have been told to “shelter in place”, observe the shifting season in all its aspects, record what I see of this land and its inhabitants.

In order to protect the planet where I have landed, I will have no actual contact with any others so as not to carry anything that might cause harm to this place or its peoples.

I have been granted unlimited virtual communication and access to information, but if I want to fully engage in this work of observation, refection and recording, I will need to find the balance between my own company and engagement with all the other sources available to me.

I do not know how long I will be in this place, in this new occupation. I do know that if I see it as a sentence handed down to me, an enforced isolation, a restriction on my life, I will limit my own possibility and strength. If instead, I claim this new way of being, in this new and quickly changing world, I gain agency.

It is not to say there isn’t fear, or anxiety, or worry, It is not to say I do not miss my family, my friends, the easy noise of a walk in town, the wash of live music, the joy of being with my grandchildren. Having the means to decide to view this in a new way (and I know that

few of us have easy access to the leeway of choice) sets a different tone to the way I spend my day.

We have enough food and water, there are woods and a small shoreline, paths and an open meadow. There is a puppy and the long companionship of my partner. We have a comfortable shelter. At this time of year the days expand both earlier and later, there is more and more light. And even as there may be less, there is more time.

Three nights ago a storm blew through with fury and rage. Two trees split in half and fell, branches were driven like stakes into the ground, a torrential rain fell horizontally, the wind screamed like a child in pain. Last night a crescent moon was brilliant in a dark sky, Orion shone gloriously. Today the world is gray.

Yet this morning begins a kind of settling in, having accepted that I am not what I thought I was, that I have changed overnight into an astronaut, an explorer, I can find a place in this landscape that was so familiar but has so quickly transformed into a whole new geography.

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