Linenger's Letters to his Son

April 20, 1997
This is my new world"

Dear John:

I have a picture of you taped to the wall in front of my work area.

Your face wears a mischievous smirk; the kind of look that alerts me immediately that you are up to something, and that I’d better keep my eye on you. I love that picture. I love that look on your face. Shows that you are rarin’ to go try something new.

Living in space has been something new for me. The strangeness of the environment--floating, flying, living in a confined space, no new faces, no real day and night--has worn off gradually, to the point of normalcy. This is my new world.

Talked to my friends cousin Tom Linenger and Jim Brant today during my once-a-week call to the Earth. They mentioned that they were looking for a fourth to go golfing today and invited me. I declined (never was much of a golfer and it was too far to travel to get to the course), but suggested you, figuring that if you start early enough you might play like Tiger Woods someday and we could all retire. We then talked of old times, of my upcoming spacewalk, and of getting together somewhere in Michigan after I land for a reunion of sorts. I could have talked all day.

This is my world now, and I accept it fully. I try to take advantage of its uniqueness, try to keep my spirits up, and carry on day after day. I know that I am doing something that counts, something that matters, something bigger than me as a person; and the risk and personal sacrifices are worth it.

But after that conversation, I realized how extraordinary, how wonderful life on Earth really is. You could go golfing, if you are in the mood for frustration. Or simply sit and read the paper under a big shade tree. Or putz in the garden. A myriad of choices.

You can have conversations without purpose and talk for as long as you’d like; speaking not of data nor of operational commands, but just talking. Spending time with friends, sharing a meal together. Going outside and breathing in the fresh air. Being with family, being with you, being with Mommy.

I will never take things for granted again. I will appreciate simple things--quiet nights, calmness, swaying trees, ice cubes, carefree days, being together. Living on an outpost, being isolated and far from Earth, has taught me this.

Goodnight, John. Love and miss both you and Mommy. Pleasant dreams.


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