9 April 2017

81 – Best Foot Forward

This essay is inspired by an ancient art and a modern endeavour.

I’ve developed a keen interest in space exploration during the past couple of years. In that time I’ve also grown more sensitive to my own personal conduct through a growing interest in Stoic philosophy.

On the surface, these two pursuits seem completely unrelated. Yet, taken together, they reveal the timeless quality and hope inherent in the pursuit of improvement. Space exploration and Stoic philosophy both highlight the eternal importance of putting your best foot forward.

Space exploration is the hope of humanity.

Space exploration is providing us humans with the tools to transcend our biosphere. It brings highly-talented and proactive people together to improve our understanding of The Universe. It strives to carry us beyond the moon as representatives of Earth. It will trigger technological innovations based on sustainable sources of energy. Space exploration represents us as a progressive, problem-solving form of life on Earth.

Space exploration also enables us to transcend the politics that divide us on so many levels. It represents the best of humanity developing progressive technologies through projects that exist above national politics and private commercial competition. Space exploration represents us as a united form of life on Earth.

Space exploration is the best of us. It is life on this planet putting its best foot forward.

Earth, as photographed by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft near Saturn, 900 million miles from home, 19 July 2013.

Now, think of yourself.

Think of yourself as your own space exploration program.

Always aim to improve yourself. Improve your own chances for a sustainable future by consuming good fuel and strengthening your body and your mind. Strive to eat real, clean food more often than processed JunkFood. Make it a habit to move your body through regular exercise. Empower yourself by learning new skills and acquiring useful knowledge. Be the scientist, philosopher, and engineer of your own life.

Always aim to improve your connections with the people around you. Cooperate, collaborate, and be courteous with them. Absent yourself from petty gossip, rumour-mongering, office politics, and family dramas. Find common, constructive ground with other people instead. Elevate yourself by helping to elevate others. Be a planet.

In the universe of your life, you are your own space exploration program. Present the best version of yourself daily. Always put your best foot forward.

And always remember:

Do not expect perfection of yourself. Demand and pursue excellence, instead. 

"Wherever you find yourself and in whatever circumstance, 
give an impeccable performance." 
- Epictetus

Bonus content: the epic concert from which that photograph was taken – the Grateful Dead putting their best foot forward at Barton Hall, Ithaca, NY, 8 May 1977. Click to play right here.

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