Week Four: Inspiration and Purpose

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Saturday, June 24, 2017


Zakary Noel

As much as I enjoy interacting with my friends and peers, I also cherish the quiet, lonely moments afforded to me as opportunities to breathe, settle, and think. At night, when the city calms down somewhat, the relative silence that envelopes our city block lets me know that another full day has come to a close. It's easier to just let go, aimlessly and peacefully moving from thought to thought in my head. All this week, however, I've been somewhat fixiated on what I saw at the National Air and Space Museum this past weekend.

The miracles of aviation technology are arguably some of the most significant advances that humankind has ever developed. It was unthinkable to believe that a person would ever exist anywhere but firmly planted on the ground that cultivated us. There were some that didn't believe it was worth the effort. If NASA or some other government research agency can't guarantee with 100% certainty a revolutionary result within the next 5 years, there comes an immense pressure to improve and perform at a higher standard, no matter how hard working or passionate the teams may be. It seems like a harmful paradigm that some could believe that progress is either inevitable and on the horizon, or so distant it isn't worth reaching for at all.

Despite the challenges we face, both those we encounter by outside forces and those we inflict upon ourselves, it's incredible to see all that has been accomplished in spite of them. I think that spirit is represented beautifully in the museum. The men and women who pioneered the skies did so under the impression that the job wouldn't be safe, or guarantee success. Bit by bit, milestone by milestone, something incredible was accomplished. It took effort and sacrifice on a scale we couldn't have predicted, but considering how much progress we've made, and how almost mundane the previously impossible seems, it was effort well spent.

Most of the contributions we make will never earn an exhibit or a memorial. But the spirit is the same, I think. And it's what gives me motivation to continue pressing forward. Every interaction I make, every demonstration I draft, and every instructional video I film contributes to something greater than itself. I believe that the efforts we make are greater than the sum of their parts, just like every diode and wire that's soldered into the International Space Station.


Thank you to my family, and especially my brothers, my great-grandmother, and my grandfather for supporting me and giving me a reason to improve and do better.

Zakary Noel