And This Year’s Winner For Biggest Life Plot Twist Goes To…

“One. Mile. Time: 9 minutes. 39 seconds.”

Yesssss, I broke 10 minutes!

The air is below freezing but I’m in a t-shirt. I keep running, trying to keep up my pace until I get home.

—-

“Wait… So the stringer runs along the fuselage?” I say, sitting on my kitchen counter, eating an abnormally healthy meal of spinach and chicken.

“Yeah,” my mother’s voice comes from the phone next to me. “Remember, engineers aren’t very creative, so just imagine some guy sitting there saying, ‘What should we call this thing we strung down the plane? I know! A stringer!'”

I laugh at my mother’s sarcasm toward her former profession.

—-

I don’t exactly have butterflies, more like a butterfly. Looking at the horizon, I realize that it’s a beautiful view of the city I’ve come to call home. It hits me in that moment that this is happening.

“Other than looking identical, the houses aren’t bad,” I type to my friend as I get in my car.

Driving down the road, following the car ahead of me marked “For Official US Government Use,” I look at the coffee shops and grocery stores. There is even something that looks like a school.

It’s like a tiny city in here.

—-

Over the past month or so, there have been some small changes creeping into my life. My diet is better, I wake up earlier, I’m studying algebra.

Why?

It’s not a New Year’s resolution. I don’t care about losing dress sizes, and the ability to clearly define the term “Flight Envelope” was not something I had ever thought I would need.

But all that changed a little more than a month ago when I decided to become a pilot for the United States Air Force.

Yes, you read that right. I, Rebecca Moore, self proclaimed liberal and pacifist, is joining the Military.

Perhaps some explaining is in order.

Back in early December, quite a lot of people forwarded me the news that civilians could apply with NASA to be an astronaut. While I would have loved to apply, I don’t meet all of their qualifications. However, it did get me thinking about where I want to be in 20-30 years.

I’m an ambitious person. I know this. My goals of ending up in the Public Affairs department of NASA have not changed, but I’ve long been thinking that a second degree in a STEM field would not only make me more competitive, but also simply to be better at my job. While I knew I couldn’t apply now, I’ve actually thought extensively about how being an astronaut could potentially affect my career. Maybe one day I would want to be the director of the space program, and honestly, shouldn’t that be an experienced astronaut? Besides my own ambition, space travel itself had a draw. I would sit around trying to think of the best way to convince NASA that they should send a public relations specialist with the team to Mars, and that specialist should definitely be me. It was a half joke in conversations, but there was part of my heart that genuinely wanted to fly toward the stars.

NASA has a longstanding relationship with the military, and there are channels through which you can apply to become part of the astronaut corps of you are a pilot. Even if you don’t make it, you still get military preference on all civil servant applications since it’s a government job.

Honestly, I’ve known for a while that there were significant benefits to trying to meet my goals through the military. It just wasn’t until recently I seriously looked at it as an option. My mind had a default button when it came to the Armed Forces. NO.

At first, when I thought about it, I wondered, “Are you abandoning your principles for your own ambition?” It was a fair question. I’m opposed to war and generally think of violence to be morally repugnant. But if you’ve ever had a real conversation with me on the complex issues of global conflict, and not one where I jokingly say we should just give all the defense budget to NASA, you know that I do appreciate the need and the good that the Armed Forces can provide. And even when I wouldn’t necessarily categorize something as good, the pragmatic side of me understands the reality of the world we live in.

Then I began to think instead of what the military could do for my career, but rather what it could do for me as a person. What new perspectives could I have if I understood the military in a different light? What would come out of me if I really challenged myself in the way this path uniquely would? And most importantly, could I serve my fellow man? Could I make the world a better place?

I do not know exactly what will come of this choice, and it should be known that I did not make it lightly. But it has been made. I’ve signed all the papers. My package had been submitted. Sometime, in the next 6 to 8 months, as long as I pass all the tests, I will leave for officer training, and then go on to pilot training. This was all done after much prayer, council, and deliberation. In my heart, I know this is the right choice for me.

As I make this shift in my life, I want to remain true the values I believe. Turning to the scriptures can give strength in times of change for anyone, so I’ve gone to the war chapters in The Book of Mormon as I continue to reconcile my decision.

This was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity. Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. (Alma 48:16-17)

At the end of the day, I want to do good.

And fly.

—-

(By the way, I know Top Gun was about the Navy, so none of you need to come correct me about my photo choice.)

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