Last year, I read an article in National Geographic magazine about Emily Briere, an aerospace engineering student who started a student-run project to send a small time capsule to Mars. Her goal in orchestrating the project is for future generations of humans who live on Mars to see what we are like here on Earth, today. (You can learn about the project at http://www.timecapsuletomars.com/)
In many ways, this reminds me of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault located close to the North Pole, the purpose of which is to store seeds to ensure a diversity of species in case of a human or natural disaster. (Learn more at https://www.croptrust.org/our-work/svalbard-global-seed-vault. ) When I first saw a picture of the vault’s magnificent entrance, I felt waves of emotion.
In both these instances, I see the same hope that we have when planting a tree: in many cases, when we plant a tree, we know we won’t be living in that area—or living at all—once the tree reaches its full height. But we plant the tree anyway, hoping to improve that particular yard, lot, property, or planet, knowing deep down that there will be others there to enjoy it.
When the news often likes to show all that is negative about our world and our politics, it’s easy to forget that most of what individuals do is done with great optimism. The reason we save money or make home improvements or plant a garden or a tree or a flowerbed is because we have hope for the future. Emily Briere is working on her time capsule because she has hope and faith that one day, humankind will arrive on Mars. The seed vault is more of an insurance policy, but it works with hope as its underlying driver: even if there is a natural or human-made disaster, it presumes that there will be humans left to rebuild the planet the way it needs to be, with plenty of plant diversity.
When life gets me down, I try to think about the reasons I don’t eat an entire pizza at once or spend all my money or fail to water my plants. It’s not habit or routine or fear: it’s a driving sense of hope that the actions I’m taking now will have positive repercussions in the future.