How “We Are the World” and the SpaceX Launch are Related

and why they give me chills

I get chills every time I hear We Are the World. I never understood it, but this has been a truth since hearing it for the first time as a nine-year-old. Or maybe I was eight or ten. Either way, curious goosebumps have covered my body for well over three decades, now, when Lionel Richie begins his lyrical reflection. I don’t hear it anymore unless I choose to, and often I forget to choose to. I played it yesterday, though, on a whim. There was no reason, no expectation, no ideation attached to it. It was just a thing that I did because my fingers led the way. So, sitting on the cork yoga mat in the middle of my bedroom floor, working, I filled the spaces between my thoughts with his words.

My body filled with chills.

I get chills every time I hear We Are the World, and it wasn’t until today that I figured out why. This afternoon, to be exact. At 3:18 this afternoon if we are looking for true precision. It was at 3:18 this afternoon that I learned the much anticipated SpaceX launch was scrubbed due to weather. It was at 3:18 this afternoon that I allowed my gaze to break from the astronauts and journalists and slide down the screen to the comments. There were so many of them, rolling rhythmically. Metronomically. Comments from strangers. Comments from strangers scattered across the globe, watching at work, watching in the gym, watching with children as a lesson in history, watching with blurred vision because mid-afternoon for us means predawn hours for others. I sat on the floor of my bedroom, as I do, and I watched, mesmerized by other people’s scrolling words.

The chills came.

“When was the last time you were inspired? The last time your heart leaped out of your chest and took your breath with it?” I read those words sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, sitting in the middle of my chills. They were perfectly timed, really, as I was feeling inspired in that moment. So the last time I was inspired was now. Sitting here. Writing this with the strangers’ comments scrolling through my mind as they just had on my screen.

Watching from an oil well pad in Ohio right now. Good luck Mackenzie brothers!
What a great homeschool opportunity, to watch this as a family and discuss its significance.
Watching from Sicily, have a safe journey. God bless you
Watching from Istanbul, Turkey. Good luck guys! Our prayers are with you.
Watching for Guerrero, so excited for this event, good luck. Thank you for your service.
Watching from Poland. I’m so excited for this mission, good luck.
Good luck every pilot, cheer from Thailand.
We will all pray for y’all to be safe we love y’all be very safe.
You have my full support NASA. You rock.
Be with you on Saturday watching from the UK… better safe than sorry.
God bless you on your launch on Saturday, good wishes from Ecuador.
Watching from Reading, England. Safe journey and good luck.
Watching from Bangkok, Thailand. Good luck and have a safe journey!
Watching from India best of luck and safe mission. We proud of u.
My 8 and half year old wishes good luck and safety to the astronauts.
Greetings from Bulgaria and one very excited 9 year old boy! Good luck and have a safe and successful trip!
God bless, watching from Bogota Colombia, safe trip, so exciting.
Hi #lelandmelvin my daughter is motivated to be an astronaut thanks to you! From El Paso, TX.
A very excited 8yr old wannabe astronaut watching and wishing safe journey!
Good luck from Ireland and England.
Watching from Botswana. Good luck SpaceX, NASA, and America.
Watching from New York! Best of luck! It is beautiful to see so many people watching all around the world. Stay safe.
Greetings from Berlin ❤ Sending love to everyone anywhere you are.
(my absolute favorite)
Fantastic first step to getting man back on the moon. Humanity needs a cause to unite!
(the absolute truest)

Each word brought a new goose bump. With each word came a new chill.

I’m sitting here, on the cork yoga mat, in the middle of my bedroom floor as I do. Sitting with the inspiration I feel. Sitting with the chills. It’s been too long — not since I’ve felt inspired. I’m feeling it now. But it’s been too long since I’ve seen the masses feel it. It’s been too long since I’ve seen the unification of humanity — a unification that we haven’t experienced for so many years — and my fingers take over again. They slide over to my phone and search for We Are the World. They slide over to my phone, search for the song, and tap play. It’s an unconscious act. Like autopilot, but not, because, again, I often forget to choose this. I guess I didn’t really even choose it today.

Lionel, Mr. Richie, he begins to sing. Adi, me, I feel more goosebumps.

I listen to the words. They’re hanging in the air, filling the spaces between my thoughts, reminding me that there was a time that hope was real. Reminding me that there was a time that strangers cared about each other. Reminding me that both of those things, both the hope and the strangers caring for each other still exist when we soften and look for it. When we allow our gaze to break and slide down to scrolling comments of compassion and encouragement. Of collective anticipation. Of hope and of care. Of love for fellow man.

Originally published at https://talesofgritandgrace.com on May 27, 2020.

teacher | storyteller | bourbon drinker | lover of dogs & words

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