Dear NASA, Love Corinne

I understand that NASA is looking for new astronauts. If you can't find me, I have gone to apply. After all, how many 81-year-olds have they got? They could investigate the response of bumpy knees and wobbly hips to interstellar travel.

And I really want to meet Tayna. The word means "first-born" in a native South American language called Aymara, and of course you know that the first official alphabet ascribed to Aymara was a scientific alphabet.* So I, as a first-born who loves science, am a natural to meet Tayna. Astronomers have just begun to see Tayna and I want to be next. She is known as an ancient newborn, for she is 13.8 billion years old. I hereby nominate her as Miss Universe. That means I couldn't be Miss Universe, since I'm too young . (How cool is that!)

Tayna is a tiny galaxy. We see her now as she was billions of years ago. So if we as humans are erased, or exterminated, or excommunicated from the Church of Species, our off-off-infinitely off-spring will be able to see us as we are today. That's a cosmic selfie of the grandest order.

And what will they see? Genocide. Uxoricide. Women being murdered, children raped. Bomb-obsessed, power-mad, greed-soaked beings plundering each other and their planet. Politicians who use power as a personal chess board to manipulate the pawns of an over-populated world. Militaristic societies that have traded bow and arrow for assault weapons. Hatreds based on color of skin and shape of eye. Atrocities perpetrated in the name of the God du Jour, or in a popularity contest to show whose Deity wields the Wheel of Misfortune.

I don't like what I see in the mirror of tomorrow. Those who sprang from us may well spring back in horror.

There is hope, though. In about 4 billion years the Milky Way and Andromeda will take part in a huge intergalactic collision. If any of us are still around we might then look like ground-up corn meal, which would at least be an improvement on what I see happening right now.

Scientists also say that we may be the first intelligent creatures in the universe, and there are more of us to come. If that's the case, I think I will turn NASA down. I can barely bear to see what the first of us has done. More of the same would fry my innate optimism, my belief in a universal order, not one led by gray hair and a beard but an underlying ability to create the beauties of nature that exist around us. I wrote in the past, "It will not be you. It may not be me. But always, and afterwards, something will be."

If we are the something that will be, I'm less sanguine about the future.

Dear NASA, not today. Not tomorrow either: I'm thinking of having a headache.

*If the culture of the Aymara interests you, as it did me, check out this article on a brilliant contemporary architect working in the Aymara tradition. His work is glorious.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2015