First Steps

This past Friday, July 20th, marked the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. However, not much was said to remember this historic event. Even in Huntsville, IMG_20170729_144116378Alabama, nicknamed The Rocket City, the local news was silent to the passing of such a historic anniversary. Huntsville is where the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo 11 mission into space was made. It is the home of U.S. Space and Rocket Center.   So why the radio silence?

Honestly, people just forgot and I find that incredibly sad. 49 years ago Neil Armstrong, representing us all, Neil Armstrong took a step onto a place no one from our planet had ever been. Twenty minutes later Buzz Aldrin followed him. They spent two hours exploring and gathering rocks. But today we just shrug something like that off.

We carry around more advanced tech on a daily basis than NASA had when they launched Apollo 11. Yet, we’ve not been back to the moon. I am sure there are many economic and political reasons that could be cited by those in charge. Funding, lack of significate investment return, etc.

IMG_20170729_153807269I suspect once people figure out how to make a profit of the moon, without completely messing up the Earth, then there will be trips once a week. However, I worry that one of the main reasons we have forgotten this monumental first step and have yet to repeat it is because so few of us look up any more. The stars are always there, whether we can see them or not.

Once we looked up to the stars and wondered. We looked up at the clouds during the day and dreamed. Now our view is often blocked by buildings and light pollution. Our attention is taken away by struggling through the day to day and beating that next level on Candy Crush Saga. There is so much going on in this world, but there isn’t enough dreaming. There isn’t enough looking up and letting your mind wander.space

The dreamers and the stargazers haven’t gone extinct. They are still out there or we wouldn’t be planning a mission to Mars, but they have dwindled in numbers. Maybe it is a good thing we haven’t been back to the moon. Damaging the moon could potentially destroy the Earth. Humans have made bad decisions about things in the past and will continue to do so.

Maybe leaving the moon alone is a good idea. But we should not forget we’ve been there. If everyone took just five minutes once a week to stop and look at the clouds or stars, we still might not go back to the moon, but imagine how far we could go.footsteps

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Waking up late and quiet inspiration

I am having difficulties waking up this morning.  I now hold in my hands a hot cup of Earl Grey that I hope will do the trick.  I have to return to my night job tonight so sleeping in is not such a bad thing, except I write best in the mornings.  (The definition of morning for me is two hours before I would normally get up.  The actual time of day doesn’t really matter since I have such a strange work schedule. Morning usually arrives at five o’clock.)

I stayed up into the wee hours last night with the kids.  I set up my daughter’s telescope and let them stare at the moon for a little while.  They quickly grew bored and went back inside but I remained in the back yard (sitting in the grass I really need to mow) gazing at the sky.

Growing up in the middle of nowhere, I used to do this a lot as a kid. My brother and I would sit outside for hours just starring at the sky.  When we went to visit my grandmother during the Summer (who also lived in the middle of nowhere, just in Florida) we would climb onto the roof of my grandfathers workshop and star gazed from there.  (We always got in trouble for being up there but that never stopped us.)

I realized last night how long it’s been since I last sat outside and dreamed about those pin pricks of diamond light.  Looking up into the night makes you realize how small you are and how unique. Taking a deep breath of air, smelling the damp grass, and listening to the crickets I let myself let go of all I logically know about space. (Which honestly is limited to what I learned in school, from the Discovery Channel, and a few books.)

I let myself dream like I did when I was a kid who watched Star Wars with my dad and carried the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy around in the pocket of my coat.  I left myself open to all the possibilities, real and imagined, until I was filled to the brim with magic.  The night sky is a big and amazing thing.  It was nice to remember that, to feel awe at how tiny we really are, and how far the possibilities can stretch.

I am glad I am a writer, because for me all of those possibilities can become real, even if it is only on a page. And if I write well enough, then one day maybe they will become real for someone who reads them.