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Who Is At Mission Control?

by Mark Cammack    July 25, 2019

Picture of NASA's Mission Control Center as persons look at five large wall mounted TV screens. 
The screen on the far left has a Tic-Tac-Toe game running on it. A normal sized computer monitor in the right front of the picture has the acronym BOPR (BOPPER) on it. The plastic name plate above says Dr. Falken. A fellow in a white shirt is standing to the left and his compper monitor has a scene from the I Dream of Jeannie TV show with Jeannie and astronaut Tony Nelson.

NASA Meets Life Games: NASA persons are professional and tend to do well at Mission Control. In our lives, depending upon who is in control, all types of games can be played.

There are two primary ways to go in life: we are either internally guided or externally conformed. A secondary mix is also possible and can lead to interesting social and brain states as both sides vie for control. This may result in games that rewire our brains and change our lives. A question to ask is: Does this help me become a better, healthier, happier person? Those who understand can have a good chance of reaching goals and their full potential. If not realized, a person will forever be subject to external forces.

Picture of a lovely brunette lady on a tennis court holding a tennis ball in one hand and a tennis racket in the other. She is wearing a white tank top with red horizontal stripes and red shorts.

While practicing the fine game of tennis with a small group, I overheard an instructor. He stated something like,"In tennis, as in life, you always want to be an actor and never a reactor. Some people go through life reacting to what other people do. They never get anywhere. When I hit the tennis ball to you, are you just going to react to what I do? Or are you going to make me have to work to stay in the game?"

Later I played opposite the instructor. He was a college health and physical education coach. The fellow taught many sports and did not specialize in any one area. His technique and knowledge of tennis was superior to mine as he had been in the game for many years. I was relatively new to tennis. My reflexes, power, and "instant on" brain state did well. We had a good match. Both of us had to work hard. A proverb of performance is: Speed is king. Technique is queen. The magnificent duo are needed for a winning outcome.

Two gentlemen tennis players shaking hands over the net on a tennis court.

Life is about us working together to help each other improve. Were the tennis matches competition or mutualism? The goal was to have an enjoyable time, enhance skills, and make friends in a good environment. It was a positive experience.

On another occasion in a different place I went to a social. There were ample board games. The premise of one of these was that each player makes their way up a toy mountain. We would roll a die and move a game piece while attempting to knock each other off of their mountainside spot. I was there to have fun. It just so happened I won the game.

The next event was basketball as a spectator. They had a huge wide screen TV on the wall. Two teams went back and forth chasing a bouncing orange rubber orb on a polished wood court. I like to be a participant in life and became restless. Upon asking about the teams, I was told to simply cheer for the one in blue. The players in red were the bad guys. I was greeted with blank stares when I asked,"Why?" Finally one fellow said,"Because they're the other team. Just root for the blue team." While stopping at that point would have been wise, we all have our lapses. "Isn't that biased? Why can't we be happy for whoever wins?" I naively asked. One fellow was still upset I had won the board game. My social group was fading fast.

The ladies remained friendly. "The real win is being with good people in a nice place and having an enjoyable time," I commented. They warm-heartedly agreed. The only way to win is to play for fun and everyone's enjoyment.

Physicist Paul Hewitt made the analogy between rocketry and life goals. If we launch a rocket toward the moon, the coordinates are not rigidly fixed. If they were set only at launch time and could not be changed, the objective would most likely be missed. There are computer systems constantly adjusting navigation. Our lives are like that, too. We may start with a dream of where we want to be and wind up somewhere else. Our lives, like the rocket, are spending time and energy. Does it not make sense to use it wisely and adjust our course when needed?

We cannot afford to abandon the controls for even a moment. A little neglect now rapidly adds up to large deviations from our intended destination. We could end up in deep space wondering what to do next. If we are not at the controls, then who is? It is either no one or someone else. This is what can happen when a person chooses to let others make decisions for them.

Are all parts of life important? Is it possible that if a person is not taking care of one area, that is a sign of their habits? Could it be that this affects everything else?

I remember several health instructors from famous universities. Some of the best nutritionists were actually chemists. One person was logical, insightful, and told stories most of us can relate to. He mentioned going to a Chinese restaurant and getting bright colored broccoli in his meal. Upon tasting it the pungent flavor of ammonia was apparent. The cook had apparently used chemicals to make the broccoli stand out. It caused quite a calamitous sensation. The nutritionist also advised never to use baking soda in stir fry or with pork. You can reduce your B-vitamins. His helpful advice and tales were enjoyable.

Another health educator was entirely different. I observed in lessor known schools that multiple medical nurses and psychology people were on the coffee, doughnut, and cigarette habit. They had left the controls a long time ago. Some of the campus police had the same habits and added alcohol as well. They were out of control. Surely we were safe in nutrition at a major university. Not so, as somehow a most remarkable instructor appeared. I have never before or since heard such wisdom, thank goodness. The poor lady was misguided and misleading others.

"The food you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow." - Jack LaLanne

The event went something like this:

"Why should we NOT eliminate junk foods or candy bars from the home?" was the opening statement made by the obese nutrition professor. Her pronouncement was unexpected. The class looked around at each other in confusion.

"Aren't those bad for us?" a brave fellow asked.

"Not if you don't eat too much of them," she replied. There was an uneasy pause by the students.


"Are you saying that junk foods are healthy? If I eat candy I get fat," an even braver young lady commented.

"Look, the reason we keep candy bars and ice cream in the house is because if we don't, we will want it and have to go out and get some. By having it, it won't bother you that it is not there," the professor absurdly explained.

"You will want it!" came a male voice from the back of the room. The class giggled in agreement. The students were smarter than the peeved plump professor.

It is wise to analyze and never compromise in some situations. The class had a chance of staying at the controls. We need responsible persons manning our systems, educational and otherwise. This avoids large numbers of people being thrown off course. It prevents crashes in life, health care, lost potential, and missed happiness.

Houston, we have a solution...

"Never let someone else do your thinking for you." - Dr. Ray Westra

For most of us, a choice we can make is to self-direct our own lives. We can choose to take care of ourselves and when possible assist others. We can decide to do what we need to make our lives better. We can exercise our minds and bodies and have fun in the process. Life is a choice and the outcome depends on us. Stay at the control center. Stay in the game.


Images are © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved. They are derived works with items modified, added, deleted, or colors changed. The original public domain sources are:

NASA Meets Life Games base photo is courtesy of NASA.

The Lovely Tennis Lady photo is courtesy of Petr Kratochvil at:

The Two Tennis Players Shaking Hands photo is courtesy of: ataelw on / CC BY

© Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.