Thirty-one years ago today a human walked on the moon for the first time. That's a big deal, but as we advance technologically it seems to become less and less of one. Remembering the event always puts me in mind of our ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago, as they surely must have wondered about the moon, and dreamed of leaving the earth like an eagle. We've evolved culturally to the point where space travel is now primarily a budgetary issue. Our species appears to have passed through the adolescence of science and technology and if we don't get in our own way, heck, we may be unstoppable, out of the larvae and on the wing. I suppose it won't be long now until going to the moon will be what going to Alaska is for us now. Unless the Republicans win in November -- then the moon will be just like Orlando.
I remember that first moonwalk as if it were only three decades ago, the grainy black and white image on the TV, the one small step, the one giant leap. It was pretty tense there as they first felt their way onto the surface in the lunar lander. It could've been a disaster. On the other hand, Neil Armstrong could've planted that boot into the moondust and yelled "Coca-Cola!"
I'm amused by the parallel of this process in my own life. Every life has milestones that are akin to making it to the moon -- losing one's virginity comes to mind, gosh, I don't know why. A great romance, a driver's license, big goals met and maintained, it's nice get yourself to a place where you can just sit there on your new plateau and gleefully squirm around on it.
For me now, the big events of the past, the personal ones, the milestones, are still big but they don't seem to belong to the world in the same way they did way back when. The first big love, or the fresh independence of my first car, those things are memories now, just mine. The witnesses have dispersed, the tide has changed, and I alone, gleefully squirming here on Queequeg's coffin, live to tell thee. It's all in my head now, just like everyone's been telling me.
You kids out there'd better pay attention and enjoy, because in mid-life gleeful squirming pops up about as often as an appointment with a urologist. If you're lucky. Sure, it's all puppies and Buffy for you now, but just wait, some day you'll be bitter and jaded and shunned just like me, and then where will you be? Itchin' to tell folks about that time you saw Buffy do that really cool thing to a vampire on the WB?
So as we all gather 'round the TV trays tonight to celebrate with our dinners of Space Food Sticks, green cheese, and Tang, take a gander out the window at that big gray ball in the sky. We wuz there.
"Fly Me To The Moon" -- Frank Sinatra -- SINATRA AT THE SANDS
"Ishmael: Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hat off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
- Herman Melville