I am not one of those thrill seekers who would jump at the chance for a civilian excursion to the moon. I doubt such trips will happen in my lifetime, but if they did, I could not be paid any sum to be one of the lucky passengers.
I am too fond of terra firma, too aghast at the thought of being unhinged in space, too afraid that something would go wrong and I’d be ejected into oblivion where I would spin and tumble forevermore, dead and forgotten.
Aside from all that, I love the moon the way it looks from here. Bold and glowing, big and imposing, lovely and luminscent. I am like my husband’s grandmother who loved the moon’s romantic side and was throughly disgusted when the Apollo missions revealed it was really nothing but a great lifeless globe of dirt and rocks.
I was eight years old when Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the moon, and today, on the 40th anniversary of those famous footsteps, I am reminded of the words he spoke when he made them. He took a small step for himself, he said, but made a giant leap for the rest of us. A barrier had been broken, a frontier explored, a dream realized.
But the really interesting thing is, Mr. Armstrong has lived a quiet life since then, downplaying his personal role in this historic event and declining the mantle of hero time and time again. This article in today’s paper was of particular interest to me because it ironically sheds light on the man who eschews the lunar spotlight. Makes me think that he wants us to remember it wasn’t walking on the moon that was so incredible but getting there.
And isn’t that what so many great people have told us? It’s not the destination but the journey that makes us who we are. I love this quote by Neil Armstrong, one of the few he has uttered about his historic stroll: “We’d all like to be recognized not by one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work.”
I think maybe that’s one reason why there has been no new treks to the moon since the seventies. It would just be expensive fireworks that wouldn’t challenge or woo anybody. Or add to the ledger of anyone’s lifework.
And isn’t that what really motivates us in the end? Not seconds of infamy but a lifetime of little choices that left the planet a happier place?