I read this New Yorker article the day after my blog post, “What are you waiting for?" went live. The piece seemed eerily related to that question—from the standpoint of both Piers Sellers and the planet he has devoted his professional life to.
Sellers is a former astronaut, space walker, and now acting director of the Earth Sciences Division at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He was recently diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.
Here’s his response to the diagnosis as described in the article:
After the diagnosis, he briefly considered living his final year or so—assuming his doctors’ expectations prove correct—as a rich man might, in a tropical, hedonistic splurge. “I thought of myself sitting for weeks on a beach,” he said. “What would I do? I’d be thinking about climate. And I know that I’d be thinking about the problem, and thinking about areas that needed to be investigated. All these things would just be going around in my head. I’d be sitting on my beach with my margarita—and it would be pointless.”
I am struck by this response for two reasons. First, that Mr. Sellers imagined he'd spend his final days so unlike the way he'd spent most of his life. And second, that he quickly realized how "pointless" that would be.
So interesting to me: this process of imagining what we would do with our lives when our days are suddenly--and really--numbered. Even more interesting: what we ultimately choose.
For more on Sellers and his work,