Space Hope


Part 1: The Origins of Space Hope

Star Trek search lights are what I wanted to happen.  In the midst of the pandemic, I hoped to see a vehicle flying and searching, and it to turn out to be the Enterprise exploring the neighborhood.  And I can’t even think of Star Trek without seeing flashes of different actors playing Kirk and Spock across time.  Star Trek is like a flip book of media images that span decades.  Why do I wish this fantasy world would seek me out?

I brought the question to Frederick, my neighbor.  He was watering his yard, just drenching it with a hose as the planetary supply of fresh water diminished faster and faster without anybody really caring.  He wore cutoff jeans he’d cut himself from a washed out pair of Wranglers and a  t-shirt that read Jump Rope for Heart.  And flip flops.  His precise, evenly faded crew cut contradicted with his clothes, juxtaposing the 1960s and the 1990s just like Star Trek.  The sun heated the air with fire breath.  I was sweating, and the water on his lawn and the water emanating from my body and the syrupy humidity made me want to touch God.

“Frederick, could I talk to you for a second?” I asked.  I stood in my own yard at the appropriate distance, my feet in the middle of my grass, unwatered and dead to the world.

“Sure, Jacob,” he said, “just let me turn this off.”

He gallivanted over to the spigot and was back in a split second, another Star Trek moment because he was jumping across time, like nethertime--time beneath time.  Perhaps we were all in the netherworld anyway with all the new normalization of terror and fear.  I hoped Frederick would want to hear what I had to see.

Once he was back, I asked, “With all that’s happening right now, do you ever wish the Star Trek Enterprise would come seek us out?”

“You read my mind,” he said, shocked.  “I’ll be right back.”  He scrambled into his house, a well maintained benchmark of aluminum siding, and left me standing in the blistering heat with hints of cooking meat immersing me from an unseen grill.  The desire for that smell made the time I spent waiting for Frederick tolerable.

Then he was back with a toy space ship in his hand.

“That’s not even the Enterprise,” I said.

“It doesn’t matter,” he answered.  “With the virus all I want to do is be rescued.  All I want is to be redeemed.  I can relate to your Star Trek sentiments because I want a space ship to come too.  I want a futurist utopia to take the place of this.”  He signaled our surroundings with his hand.

“You are the man,” I said, and gave him an air fist bump.

“Let’s play a game,” he said.


Part 2: The Official Rules of Space Hope

This applies to those that agree to the rules, to those to whom you mention that you hope higher order humans will arrive from space, perhaps with a futuristic techo-cultural remedy for the fragmentation here on Earth thanks to the rise fo the internet and social media. 

The rule is to agree to the rules.  That is the only rule.  But what is the game?

The game is to never give up hope.

Part 3: Frederick Explains the Game

“I know you secretly believe I’m just wasting water on my lawn,” Frederick began.  “I can tell, because you do the opposite.”

I looked down at the withered dry grass covering my own yard and suppressed an impulse to spasmically flutter my hands, a compulsive tick I’d been working on quelling.  I suddenly felt embarrassed, but also relief and excitement because I wondered what else he would say.

“I know it wastes water,” he continued.  “And part of me does feel guilty about it.  Conflicted.  But even as I get my water bill I think it’s worth it.  I’ve maintained this yard despite the chaos of the world.”

As he finished, I vaguely saw him in a new light, like a prophet standing in his Eden.

“So, what’s the game?” I asked.

“The game is this,” he said.  “The game is that you stay hopeful that your Star Trek resume will come.”

“At least there’s a rational humanist future on TV,” I said.


Part 4: Binge Watching Star Trek

Another way to simulate this rescue that never happens is to simply binge watch old episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation.  This will allow that reality to become your reality for the time being.

The plot of my day is that I sat and binge watched.  That’s the plot of everyone’s day.  Watching another reality is a temporary salvation.

Instead of a space ship arriving, narrative images of a possible reality absorb us.  We can virtually experience that existence and temporarily feel relief.

Part 5: The Arrival

I looked up in the sky as I drank my morning coffee even though it was still dark and everyone was asleep.  It was the morning night before the day.  Everybody was still stuck in their houses.

That’s when the lights came.  In the distance they were a space ship that maybe was real.  I walked out into the backyard to get a closer look.

This wouldn’t be an alien abduction, but rather a human rescue.  There would be humans arriving.  They would beam down.

“Hello,” I said, looking up.

Don’t you see how my wish for Star Trek was really a wish for something better?  The point of all this is to remember to not give up hope.

I stood watching their arrival in the form of lights in the distance.  Should I wake up Frederick?

“No, you don’t need to wake him up,” spoke a disembodied voice.  “Everything is okay.  Everything will always be okay now.”

The Enterprise then took me away.  But maybe I was always away in the first place.