Where Have the Frontiers Gone?

Space, the final frontier.

When I was young, those opening words to my favorite TV show assured me that I had sixty minutes of escapism ahead of me, commercial breaks accepted. If space is the final frontier, what happened to the frontiers before it? Have we understood them fully and explored them so completely that there is nothing left; there is nothing new at all?

imageEven climbing Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, is nothing new. People who are driven to try will find piles of trash and thousands of empty oxygen bottles left by those who were here before them.  Magnificent.

But ordinary people don’t head out into the frontier or drive for the summit. Ordinary people carve out a place for themselves and huddle down. They work to fit in where they are, not forging their way into dangerous wilderness. The men, women and children that have were more than settlers. They were explorers, opportunists, entrepreneurs and rebels; a breed very different from ordinary folk. They were on a search, a mission.

America was settled by such people. Misfits who got fed up with the way things were in England and set out to start over. Later, they were joined by rebels from Ireland, Poland and other countries. Their mission was freedom and they left behind an ordered way of doing things to pursue that goal; the pursuit of happiness. And when the new country became settled and somewhat ordered, they set out to the unsettled and wild west.

The American Frontier existed from around 1600 to 1900, the 1900’s commonly called the American Old West, as it was during this time that the eastern half of the country was settled and attention was turned towards expansion to the west.

Today, the West Coast is almost as densely populated as the East.

Space is most certainly a frontier because of its inaccessibility to man and its vastness. As such, it will always be a frontier, but I don’t believe it is the final frontier. There are still places on Earth that have not been seen, catalogued and used up, and thank goodness for that. Finding these frontiers as they diminish and become smaller and fewer is the challenge the rebels and misfits of today face.

Universe

Follow the Kepler Mission, NASA’s first mission capable of finding Earth-size and smaller planets around other stars

“What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two: melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land.” Che Guevara

©2012, Mitch Lavender

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