Embodied Thinking

Embodied Thinking is the use of the body sensations – both physical and emotional – in the creation process.

The embodiment that I chose is a free verse poem that I entitled The Astronaut’s Wife. One of the aspects of the space program that I have always been fascinated by is the lives of the astronauts and their families – especially during the golden age of space travel during the Apollo program. The fact that their entire lives were photographed and reported upon while they were undergoing such stresses is interesting to me. The poem I created was meant to empathetically represent that duality of having to put on your best public face at all times even when you are terror stricken at what is going on. I think that this type of experience is one that almost everybody is familiar with and can be empathetic to at some level. This is especially true if you are a parent as there are many times when you have to simply bury your own panic, grief or illness in order to put on the parent persona for your own child. In my poem, I try to represent those two parts – the public persona and the private fear – to give an empathetic look at the life experience of these astronaut wives in the 1960s.

Astronaut’s Wife

 He just called. He is going to the moon. I am happy, proud and thrilled.

Credit nasa.gov

 (He is going to the moon. The moon. And he tells me like he’s going to be at a conference in Cleveland for a few days. Does he realize the dangers? Does he understand what could go wrong? Does he know that if something happens, he is going to be leaving me and the kids here alone? What am I going to do if something happens? I will be by myself. How will I manage? Where will I get a job? I haven’t been anything, but his wife for so long. What will I tell the kids? Who will walk our daughter down the aisle at her wedding? Do we have enough insurance? How can I make the next few months extra special just in case he doesn’t come back? I should look at our savings. Where will I go if he doesn’t come back? I need a drink. Does he realize that HE COULD DIE? Like Gus? Like Ed? Like Roger? What will I do if that happens? )

 He just called. He is going to the moon. I am happy, proud and thrilled.

I think this understanding impacts my topic by making the whole space program more human and less bureaucratic. The original astronauts are generally viewed as “steely-eyed missle men” and are looked at through the lens of their accomplishments in space rather than as the humans that they are. I believe developing an empathetic connection to them in this way helps us to understand the sacrifices that they and their families made in their personal lives for this national dream to become a reality. It really was not all Corvettes and jets. It was family men, who were not always perfect, struggling to be in the public eye and project an image to the world that did not always represent the reality. As a personal proponent of the space program, this type of understanding is important because as much as NASA is the mistakes it has made and the money it has spent, it is also the people whose passion, despite fear, for space exploration and the knowledge we gain through our time in orbit that make the space program important.

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