Hardship can lead to the stars

To the stars

“Ad astra per aspera.”
– Latin saying

My favourite Latin saying translates to “through hardship to the stars”.

My brother, who knows a thing or two about history, told me these pieces of space trivia related to the saying:

The Royal Air Force (RAF) uses a derivative of the maxim as their motto.  Per ardua ad astra, or “through adversity to the stars”, speaks perfectly to the sacrifice and glory of war.  An exhibit of the same name exists in honour of the Apollo 1 crew.  Launch Complex 34, the site of a fire that took the lives of the three astronauts during a training session at Cape Canaveral, bears a plaque with identical words.

Gus Grissom, one of the three ill-fated Apollo 1 astronauts, is quoted as saying:

“Ours is a dangerous business.  If anything should happen, we want people to accept that.  I believe the conquest of space is worth the loss of life”.

The Apollo 1 crew may never have made it to the moon but they inspired generations with their courage and idealism.

Take it from an astronaut

Decades later, Pete Conrad, Commander of Apollo 12, died at age 69 in a motorcycle crash.  (In what twisted world does an astronaut die in a traffic accident? But I digress.)  On the morning of his death, Conrad drew a silly self-portrait of himself on a placemat at an IHOP for a little girl.  He went on to write, “To Emily, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars. Your Pal, the Rocketman.”  Four hours later, he was dead.  The place of the crash? Ojai, California.  Ojai means ‘place of the moon’ in Chumash.

If that’s not pure poetry, I’m not sure what is.


I would question whether, in today’s hyper-distracted world, the majority of us look up long enough from our phones to notice the stars let alone dream so large.  Why is that?  Is it because we’ve been made to believe we couldn’t possibly follow in the footsteps of a moonwalker?  Is it because we’ve been convinced by the so-called life coaches, entrepreneurs, innovators, and experts that we don’t have what it takes (yet) to aim that high?  Oh!  But buy their course and you’ll be sure to make headway in the right direction.

Perhaps it’s better to put our faith in ourselves.  When we expose ourselves to the possibility of failure, accept hardship as a part of life, and decide to navigate adversity we can then have the faith in ourselves to risk big.

The reward for our bravery could very well be written in the stars.

x KM


Photo credit: Babak Tafreshi

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