Monday, July 20, 2009

I Hope My Legs Don't Break

My sister was nearing the halfway mark to two years of age. My brother was born three years later. And I, well, I wasn't even a figment of someone's imagination.

Forty years ago, man walked on the moon for the first time. It seems far-fetched, even now, to imagine such a gigantic feat. In fact, some conspiracy theorists believe that we never did. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I am aware of the shocking complexities involved in such an extraordinary event in the history of humanity. And to think it was forty years ago.

The space program has faced many catastrophes, before and since. Brave astronauts, in love of the science, their imaginations, and the dreams of Americans and the world, have died for the cause of living temporarily in space. Conducting experiments, mapping the universe, and feeding the curiosities of millions.

I have wondered, many times, the feeling you would get in such an otherworldly experience. To see the Earth from outside of it. To step on an extraterrestrial object. I suspect it would be a pure adrenaline rush, maybe even better than the ones I get when hiking up the tallest mountains and gazing out over the ferocious seas. And the danger of it all, where one hiccup of almost an infinite number can quickly end your life. To me, this is the ultimate means of risking your life. For knowledge and experience. So that others may learn more about the world--or, more appropriately, the universe.

I can imagine orbiting the planet, gazing out as the Earth rotates beneath me or around me or nearby. Objects floating effortlessly in the air, people in a jubilee of a newfound experience. And landing on the moon, the most nervous of any type of landing. The moment of impact. The astounding success of motionlessness.

To imagine walking on the moon is one thing. To experience it, I feel, is something that imaginations can only dare to describe. When the famous words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." were spoken during the almost mystical event, the world nodded their heads in agreement. No more did we have to dare to dream. We made it a reality.

What science taught us that day is that learning is the most courageous thing humans can do. And the most rewarding.