Per aspera ad astra or Ad astra per aspera is a Latin phrase which means any of the following: “Through hardships to the stars”, “A rough road leads to the stars” or “To the stars through difficulties”.
The other night, I was out in the high desert area where my dad lives, dropping him off after a father-daughter lunch and movie date. We stared up into the night sky — velvet black, extraordinary “seeing” for California — remarking on how fortunate we felt to have such a view. These are the starry skies of my childhood. It’s no wonder I grew up obsessed with space. My heart, my mind, is drenched with stars.
I fell away from that love, for a time. Blame the death of the Space Shuttle Program. Blame depression, blame stress, blame conflict and tension in my life. Blame long-echoing repercussions of having given up on Career Plan A(stronaut). I still went out and looked up at the stars, but they were dim, blurred by weariness, fears, sometimes tears. At times I saw nothing at all.
With conflicting feelings of past love, loss and detachment, I shuttered my space blog in 2013. I couldn’t dredge up the enthusiasm to post anymore. It meant so much to me, yet I felt nothing.
In hindsight, I see that I was drifting away from all the things that made me “me” — drifting away from myself. Slowly, over the past several months, I’ve been rediscovering interests and passions, capturing them, putting them back into stable orbits. I feel more “me” now than I have in a while. And it will keep getting better, I think, as time goes on. The night sky is my anchor.
And so I return to a phrase I’ve heard many times, usually in connection with the space program (and loss of life), ad astra per aspera. “Through hardships, to the stars.” It’s been a rough road, but I’m coming back.