We’re All Living in a Spaceship Now: The Oddity of Our Pandemic POV

“This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m steppin’ through the door
And I’m floating in the most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today.

For here am I sittin’ in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet earth is blue
And there’s nothin’ I can do…

- David Bowie, Space Oddity

Life in a spaceship is upon us. Here, hermetically sealed away from existence as we knew it, we sit in our square wooden boxes, passing through time. We are living through glass panes. Peering out windows at the dangerously beautiful universe out there. Talking through video screens in our ship command centers to people who once were right next to us, and now are light years away.

The stars do look very different, today.

Removed from the world, the great time-out from what We Want, our Planet Earth is finally blue again.

Our ships are stocked to the brim with supplies. Rations of packaged foods. Thousands upon thousands of toilet paper rolls. Formula 409 in every bulkhead to keep the sanctity of our vessels.

In here, the gravity that used to ground us does not exist. Floating through our living rooms and kitchens, while Planet Earth is blue but there’s nothing for us to do, the novelty of this new world is wearing off.

Those who dare leave their capsules, missions through the great unknown, must prepare before stepping onto a different planet.

Put your N95 masks and latex gloves on, Majors. The air out there is poison. The surfaces — lethal. Keep your distance from the other astronauts. And may God’s love be with you…

“This is Ground Control to Major Tom / Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare.”

“This is Major Tom to Ground Control / I’m stepping through the door / And I’m floating in the most peculiar way.”

And indeed, our life is about to look very different today.

“Ground control to Major Tom, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you…

Here, far above the world we once knew, we can see our lives from another galaxy.

The image through the windows of our ship — all the choices of that life before space travel — take on a new point of view.

Because here, in our spaceships, we cannot escape. The distraction of our video screens and hobbies have expiry dates. As we pummel through space encapsulated, our minds can no longer travel outwards. They can only move inwards toward that place we’ve avoided for all too long.

Somehow, one hundred thousand miles away from our life, we’ll never get closer to it.

When we finally head home and break through the atmosphere, are you sure you don’t want to live in a different world?

Are you sure you’ll ever be able to return to the same existence after seeing it so close from afar?

Are you sure this spaceship you’ve chosen, all the decisions you’ve made in concentrated form, will take you to your destination?

Are you sure your spaceship knows which way to go?

Full lyrics, “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

Ground control to major Tom
Ground control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
10, 9, 8, 7, 6…Ground control to Major Tom
Commencin’ countdown, engines on…5, 4, 3, 2,
Check ignition…1…and may God’s love be with you…
Lift off

This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You’ve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m steppin’ through the door
And I’m floating in the most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here am I sittin’ in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet earth is blue
And there’s nothin’ I can do…

…Ground control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead
There’s something wrong
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you…

Here am I floatin’ round my tin can
Far above the moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.

I write about serious tech stuff for work. But here, I tell true tales from my wacky, wonderful life. (read more: www.christenobrien.com)

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