A man in a space suit leaping

‘Astronaut Wanted: No Experience Necessary’

This was the radio advert that would prompt Dr Helen Sharman, a young food chemist for Mars Confectionery to take a leap of faith and embark upon an unbelievable adventure, sat on top of a Soviet Soyuz rocket, ready to launch into space.

The advertisement that Dr Sharman had chanced to hear was for Project Juno, a collaboration between the Soviet Union and private British Companies who shared a common goal of, fostering UK-Soviet relations by sending a British astronaut to the Mir space station. 

Upon hearing the radio ad Dr Sharman threw caution to the wind and applied immediately, thus changing her life forever.

Even though the advert seemed pretty simple on the face of it, the selection process was set to be much more in-depth with 13,000 other applicants all vying for the position.It was thanks to her aptitude for languages, a scientific background and a high level of fitness that she was selected as one of only two candidates put forward for the full 18 months of training at Moscow’s Star City.

Helen went on to become the first British astronaut to fly under the UK flag and the only candidate from Project Juno to fly into space on 18th May 1991. She spent 8 days on the Mir space station focusing on biological experiments and chatting to school children via amateur radio.

Let’s just take a moment and have a think about what could have gone through Dr Sharman’s mind, the moment she heard the advert and thought to herself, ‘Sure, I could be an astronaut, why not!’

Can you imagine arriving home after your commute and saying, “Hey honey, I’m home…. Sure, my day was okay, pretty normal you know, except, I applied to be an astronaut. How was your day?”

In an interview with Destination Space, Dr Sharman says

“I almost decided not to apply for the Mission, and if I hadn’t just given it a try, I wouldn’t have been into space at all.”

I wonder if it was the usual life limiting excuses we all conjure up that made her second guess the application?  Did she think, I can’t do that. What if they say no? My life is here, not in space. What will my friends think? What will my family think? Did she have a significant other to consider? 

Then, I wonder what made her decide to do it anyway, was it courage, recklessness, ambition or faith? She didn’t set out that morning with a view to become an astronaut. It wasn’t a life-long dream or a career path she had imagined, it was a wild card opportunity that came out of nowhere.

I believe that the paths laid out ahead of us are greater and more amazing then we could ever see for ourselves. The truth is, we are just not that imaginative, how could we possibly know what is out there for us!

As humans we seek out change, we hope for more, we strive to achieve, we ask for opportunities then just as they appear, we turn away from them because they do not take the form that we expected them to.

To truly experience all of the extraordinary things that life has in store, we have to stop trying to control our future and just surrender to the process.

Say yes to the opportunities, go on the date, apply for the job, read the book that jumped into your hand, and talk to the person who caught your eye.

By trusting our intuition, we open ourselves up to the limitless possibilities that life has to offer.

There is nothing more profound than hearing that someone has done something completely unexpected and found it has led them to something bigger and better then they could have ever imagined, if that is not encouragement for us to do the same then I don’t know what is.

So, go for it, reach out, do something you want to, go for broke, just say yes and trust that everything will work out for the best. Stop trying to control your future, surrender to the process, just be the happiest most peaceful version of yourself that you can be and trust that what is meant to be, will always be.

I want to leave you with a wonderful quote by Marianne Williamson, American spiritual teacher, author, lecturer, entrepreneur and activist, that manages to simplify my own musings, beautifully;

Ego says “Once everything falls into place I will find peace”

Spirit says “Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place"

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