July 16, 2009

Living in a Lunar Shadow

For many people, they've lived in the shadow of the Kennedy assassination, for others, it was 9/11.

For me, much of my life was in the shadow of the Apollo 11 mission. Granted, I was a little over a year old at the time, but my childhood was filled with visions of space travel...of wanting to get "out there". I played with a model Saturn V rocket (complete with landing module with parachute!), read plenty of books about the space program and the various missions (leading up to - but not including - The Right Stuff (the book was too much of an "adult" read for me, and sadly, I've never seen the movie). In fact, as early as fifth grade I had announced my intentions to be an astronaut.

But then puberty hit, and the discovery of girls - plus my less-than-healthy childhood physique - put an end to those dreams.

However, even though there's some nostalgic reminiscing (including possible restoration of the lunar footage), I think much of contemporary culture has lost that yearning.

Now, I'm not saying that we should, in this economy, plan another manned moon mission - but there was something about the fact that everyone gathered towards a common cause, and that there was a great sense of building-something-and-wondering-if-it-will-work. (At least, that's one of the tidbits from In the Shadow of the Moon, which is a fascinating documentary about the Apollo missions). It's the kind of spirit that we only seem to value in more romantic times, rather than in the more practical here-and-now.

It's also interesting to note that there are some fascinating theories about how the moon came to be - most notably in the awesome documentary If We Had No Moon. The main contender is that the earth, at one point, was hit by a big meteor at the right time, at the right angle, spinning off and becoming forget into a perfect satellite.

But perhaps that's why I have a slight nostalgia for the moon launch (and for those of you who will claim that it was faked, I have one word for you - Mythbusters. So there) - it was a time in our history where we got together, collaborated, and made one of our celestial neighbors a little less mysterious.

It was a time we had a little more adventure in our lives, and that's something we need. Desperately.

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