Where were you 25 years ago today?

"Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain." -- President Ronald Reagan, during the crew's eulogy

The plan today was to continue with a follow-up to yesterday's piece (which I'll run on Saturday) but was reminded of the Challenger Explosion that happened 25 years ago today.

Do you remember where you were?

I do.  I was in 2nd grade, Mrs. Street's class.  Our school had grade pods, where each classroom branched off of the gathering area in the center.  All of the classes were called out to the pod, where we watched the local news as it replayed the tragedy.  The news anchor talked the audience through what had happened - a rocket booster failed, causing the space shuttle to explode 73 seconds after lift off, killing all seven astronauts on board. I distinctly remember our teachers saying, "You will always remember where you were when this happened." Not quite understanding what they meant at the time, I now recognize that they were right.

As I walked back into my classroom, I said to my teacher "I will never be an astronaut." Dreams dashed, for at the time, I had an obsession with the movie Space Camp, and wanted nothing more than to travel into Space and explore the planets. She looked softly at me and said, "Don't say that.  Don't let an accident take away YOUR dreams."

Mrs. Street explained to the class that accidents are a part of life.  Car crashes happen. People get hurt.  But, we couldn't live our life in a way that would prevent us from doing the things that we wanted to do, everyday. And she was right.

Oh...how the times have changed.  Twenty-five years ago, I wasn't scared to speak my mind, nor was I worried about what my classmates thought of my dreams, no matter how silly they seemed.  They were mine, and I owned them. Twenty-five years ago, I believed that I could do anything. I had no fear, I had no reservations, I had no doubt.  As I think back to that day, January 28, 1986, I am reminded of the little girl who was so hungry for knowledge, questioned everything and soaked up the answers like a sponge. Slowly, unsure of when I lost her, I'm finding that girl again. The one who owns her dreams, faces everyday (ok, most days) with a smile and listens to the "I think I can" voice inside of her, rather than the external suppressive voice of doubters.

So, I ask you: Where were you 25 years ago? What were your thoughts, dreams, aspirations and goals? Have they changed and morphed because you've continued the climb to the best "YOU" possible? Or, somewhere along the way did the childlike wonder get lost in the shuffle? If it's the latter, than pick them up, dust them off and get re-acquainted with your aspirations! It's unfortunate that tragedies are often the catalyst for self-reflection, but without the calamitous, we don't appreciate the blissful. We get one shot at this thing called life... and we might as well make it the best one we can!