Thursday, June 30, 2005

What I learnt from a Glass Artist and a NASA Astronaut (or, In pursuit of a dream, Part 2)

[Related post - NASA astronaut "Cady" Coleman comes to Singapore, 30 Jun 2005]

What does a Glass Artist and NASA Astronaut have in common?

One, Josh Simpson and Catherine Coleman are married to each other and have sons. Two, they both shared their life story by talking about what they do, and how they ended up in their respective careers. Three, importance they place on family was apparent in their respective talks. Four (perhaps the most important thing I took away from the session tonight), they knew what they wanted in life and they pursued their dream with whatever resources they had then.

Josh Simpson, at 20 years of age, decided he wanted to learn how to blow glass and so, without training, used his entire life savings (all $306) to construct a glass blowing workshop on his own. You hear Josh wax lyrical about glass -- "an alchemic blend of sand & oxides" -- and you know this guy is passionate about this work.

He showed pictures of his early works (quite amateurish-looking, frankly). Then he showed pictures of this works some 17 years later. His skills have obviously improved. Now his works command premium prices.

Cady shared how she got "the most impossible dream job". She said to find what you love to do, find out how to go about doing it, and do all you can to do it well.

She decided she wanted to be an astronaut and went to find out what was needed to even qualify to apply as one. Then she went ahead to pursue her dream (in reality, it's easier than it sounds -- but it's quite simple in a philosophical way).

She said she didn't like physics. That physics didn't "speak to her". Woah -- I thought all Astronauts must be physics nerds. I was wrong. Her point was that she needed to know physics for her work. So she had to work harder at it and paid more attention to it.

On why humans are exploring Mars, she just said as a matter-of-fact, "We're learning about Mars because we're going there." A simple statement that conveyed her passion and conviction of her attitude towards her work. Incidentally, Cady says she temped in a library when younger : )

Another thing I realised: Visiting a library is like being sent into space -- we're in an environment where we're learning about the universe.

Here are the photos from the evening's session. Enjoy.
Jedi Knights in the library?

A Tie-fighter pilot?

They were part of the "show", with the main attraction, NASA Astronaut Dr. Catherine Coleman (center) -- with Josh Simpson in blue-shirt (back to camera).

These fellas sure know how to strike a pose! And the sabers looks real.

The audience waiting for the session to start.

A royal "Jedi Knights" Honor Guard...
... escorting the speakers and Guests of Honors.

Cady Coleman gives out her Mission Patch.
Josh Simpson, Glass Artist, starts his talk.

He explains his creative and learning process of each piece.

Cady Coleman gives insights to how astronauts live in space, eat, sleep, wash, answer calls of nature... (all rated PG, of course).

Cady Coleman swamped by autograph-seekers (can you spot the Astronaut?).
"Eh, brudder, you like my light saber or not?" -- Josh Simpson being confronted by Star Wars characters?

NASA Astronaut, Cady Coleman & Glass Artist, Josh Simpson, posing with the Star Wars Fan Club.

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  1. Anonymous12:28 pm

    yo i was the reporter from new paper there at woodlands library yesterday (was typing furiously on my laptop). yup. josh and cath showed such enthusiasm for their job, that i was inspired too.

    haha a blogger librarian thats cute

  2. Hey! And I was just right behind you. Yes I noticed you at your laptop :)

  3. Anonymous10:57 am

    For those who want to read up more on cady & josh - here's their official websites;

    *Biographical Data:

    **Biographical Data:

  4. Sharon Thien12:06 pm

    I was at the event as well. Like many others, I came away being awed and entirely inspired by their dedication to their respective callings and that despite the discipline, talent & hard work that their work entail, they obviously enjoy it so much. Like you, the importance of family and the fact that they are, fundamentally, ordinary and down-to-earth guys who happened to be very sure about their calling and have the innate abilities and passion/commitment to achieve their dreams came across so clearly. Both have a very sure sense of the larger purpose and mission in life. I wish more could have caught this event, esp for teenagers and anyone at a crossroad of sort in their lives currently.


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