Editor's Letter | The Space Issue - March 2018
This month's issue is about finding your own space
The honour of being the first American to walk in space was one that astronaut Ed White wore lightly. “I’m not coming in... this is fun" he laughed when his commander ordered him back to the airlock, sounding for all the world like a naughty school kid being summoned by his parents.
Only a handful of humans - fewer than 200 at the latest count - could ever claim to fully appreciate what White was feeling when he uttered those words. But pretty much everyone (from naughty school kids upwards) can relate to the sentiment. You don’t have to be stepping into an airless interplanetary vacuum to enjoy the feeling of finding your own space.
Take Will Renwick, the editor of our sister title Outdoors Magic, for example. In this month’s issue he tells the story of his three-week, 291-mile hike along the Cambrian Way in Wales - a trek so remote that he often went days on end without seeing another soul. He loved it so much that not even sleeping in a urinal could dampen his spirits.
"He loved the Cambrian Way so much that not even sleeping in a urinal could dampen his spirits."
Then there’s Matti Tahkola, the young Finnish man who deputy editor Stuart Kenny spoke to this month. A former computer gaming enthusiast, he decided to switch his sofa for a mountain bike one day and has never looked back. He now gets his kicks from racing 24-hour, marathon-length events through the pitch black and the worst Scottish Highland weather, but that’s another story.
Seeking out remote, spacious places means you get to see incredible sights - the raging torrents of the Rio Baker river in Patagonia for example, or the stunning landscapes of Bryce Canyon. But it’s also a great way of putting things into perspective.
Photographer Dan Milner, who we interviewed for My Life in Pictures this month, tells us he "often frames outdoor and adventurous endeavours within a bigger landscape context, [because] it helps remind me (and the viewers I hope) that the world is mightier than we’ll ever be."
"Framing adventurous endeavours within a bigger landscape context helps remind us that the world is mightier than we’ll ever be."
And while the physical benefits of getting outdoors are well-documented, reminding yourself of the power of nature like this can have powerful mental health benefits too.
This month’s issue features a fascinating story about the Groundswell Community, a Californian organisation that uses surfing as a way of treating sufferers of serious sexual trauma. Course leader Natalie Smalls told Mpora: “Being submerged in water can be very overwhelming, very humbling. You can feel the power and support of the water at the same time. It’s scary but comforting."
One of her group, who’d been sexually assaulted at college, simply said: “Surfing is like magic, it’s like medicine. After the first session I did with Groundswell I didn’t sleep, because being in the waves was so moving."
Back in 1965, in a vastly different set of circumstances, astronaut Ed White found himself similarly moved by his encounter with a great unknown. Listen to the radio recordings and you can hear his commander coaxing: “Ed, come on in here... They want you to get back in." White eventually complies, but says: “It’s the saddest moment of my life."
The way NASA’s missions worked meant that he would never get to walk in space a second time. Thankfully for those of us down here on earth, there are always plenty of chances to get outside and get exploring.
Here’s hoping that this month’s stories inspire you to find some space of your own.
Enjoy the adventure,
- Tristan, Editor-in-Chief