An uplifting memoir whose essential message is that the best way to defy the limits of time is to live fully in the moment.
Williams, former director of Space and Life Sciences at NASA, reports that the experience of living “a lifetime in a moment” came to him while floating freely in space replacing a faulty gyroscope outside the space shuttle Endeavour. The author, a retired astronaut who has also been an emergency room physician, an aquanaut, and a CEO, fills the narrative with dramatic moments, both high and low. Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight in 1961 was an inspirational moment for Williams. In the first part of the book, he chronicles a youth spent learning resilience and independence. Keen to explore, face challenges, and learn from his failures, he gained entrance to medical school. In the second part, Williams recounts his time as an ER doctor and an astronaut. He writes vividly of the long winnowing process endured by applicants and the rigors of the Canadian astronaut program. In the third part, the author discusses his experiences as mission specialist, a senior executive at NASA, and in a NASA underwater research lab. Throughout the narrative, the author demonstrates an uncanny ability to recall decades-old conversations. These mostly have the ring of truth, and even if they are not the actual words, they make the narrative a smooth reading experience. Though he does not use the phrase “the power of positive thinking,” the philosophy is ever present in the subtext. Williams also writes with equanimity about his special needs child and a bout with prostate cancer. Through his work and personal life, teaching moments abound. “Time is our most precious resource,” he writes, “not to be squandered but to be nourished into rich experiences that will stay with us forever.”
From a confident, accomplished, and multitalented man, this is an effective demonstration of how to live a fulfilling life.