Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan!

Hey, everyone. It’s a somber day for many of us, but I didn’t want it to get by without wishing a happy birthday to Dr. Carl Sagan, who would have turned 82.

Dr. Sagan is one of the people who’ve always been among the most inspiring I’ve ever been honored to come across. His writings have always been a a model to me for how to live, and how important it is to take time to see perspectives other than my own. I remember watching “Cosmos” with my family, digesting his words when I should have been doing my homework or playing baseball. It’s because of him that on a hot summer day on a dusty ball field I was first able to use a baseball and figure out how the Moon’s phases worked.

I always admired how he managed to make incredibly difficult topics seem much more approachable, and thanks to him, I try, and try, and try to emulate that in my life and my work. He made me realize that, while they didn’t know it, all the kids who were calling me a nerd (or worse) because I was always thinking about the skies were paying me a huge compliment. I remember being quietly sad about his passing in 1996, when none of my friends were interested, and I remember rediscovering his work when I read the “Cosmos” book years later.

It’s funny to think of how all of these little experiences, these little interactions, add up to make us who we are. We all have the power to nudge people, often people we don’t know, in one direction or another. Somehow, he managed to always push anyone who cared to listen just a little bit in the right direction. Never condescending, never smug, never bossy.

It was Dr. Sagan to whom I turned yesterday, and it’s Dr. Sagan who I’ll turn to again today. “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”

Happy birthday, Carl, and, as always, thank you.

Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan (from The SETI Institute)
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