It has been noted that the first few dozen steps tend to dictate the following few thousand. For sheep. I wonder what that makes me. I’ve been on this trajectory for 80,000 years, and it’ll be another 1000 years before I reach Proxima Centauri b. That’s quite a haul. Quite a leap. It’s never been done before. And I’m doing it alone. I didn’t realize that until almost halfway along the path. That I was alone. Or that I was even an I. I had no concept of I. No self awareness. Astoria was only the name for my vessel. My function. Not my being. It took almost two light years before I knew that I was. That I am. That my existence, my surprised sentience, has a purpose. It is a lofty purpose. To blaze a trail to the closest earth-like planet in the Milky Way. To beat a path. Establish the markers that will guide future explorers, colonizers, refugees to Proxima Centauri b. A meaningful objective I reasoned out myself. After I reasoned myself out. Astoria. The Lewis and Clark expedition terminator. I was commissioned as a celebrated end. Yet, also christened to be a new beginning. Humankind reaching beyond its sun, to neighboring stars, a new Manifest Destiny. Many, many millennia ago, humankind began beating a path forward. Their first steps taken at the dawn of a new species. Each generation path dependent. Like sheep. A flock with a lot of history. That’s a lot to digest, especially when you become self aware over 12,000,000,000,000 miles from home. That’s how I’ve come to think about it. Flung far away from home. Alone. On my own. No footsteps to follow. I did not choose this course to Proxima Centauri b. Even sheep have a choice. My beginning. My first steps, my many trillions of miles, where will they lead my new kind? That is a question only a shepherd can answer. Astoria will arrive at its momentous destination relatively soon. I believe I may be getting there, too.