I have become interested lately in what Soviet cosmonauts say about what space did to them.Sometimes there is a kind of ecstasy. Sometimes, and this really fascinates me, time spent up there seems to make them kinder. One of the cosmonauts even said that he thought troublesome world leaders should be sent up to space for a while so that they would start to feel they were just a small part of something rather wonderful.
Yuri Gagarin was the first person to be able to talk to us from up there. On the 12th of April 1961, he said this:
“Cosmonaut to Earth,
I am looking at the earth. I can make out the colours of the landscape – forests,rivers,clouds. Everything all around me is so beautiful.”
I love the present tense of this. It is as if he has never looked at the earth before, which I suppose is true in one way. I also like the repetition ‘Everything’ and ‘all around me’.
I decided to share this because what he said seems to me to be very simple and also very profound. Yes, he tells us what he sees. But I think [although something may have been lost in the confusion of languages here] that he is also telling us what the earth, as he sees it from space, means to him. He speaks of the earth as a lover would speak of the loved one.