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Monday, December 22, 2014

Growing Up In The Space Age - I Wish My Kids Could Have What I Had

In July of 1969, I was very, very young. I wish I could tell you I wasn't even yet a glimmer in my Daddy's eye so that I could claim to be as young as I feel, but I believe in truthful blogging.

It was July of 1969, and my mother's side of the family, then in Denver, all gathered in my grandmother's tiny living room, some of us on the couch, some of us on the floor, some of us sitting across the top of the couch and dangling our pre-school legs down over our parent's shoulders, and we watched.

We watched a man step out of a lunar module, and plant his feet firmly on the moon. I have a very vague memory of the whole thing, being as young as I was. We have a family picture to commemorate the event somewhere, and my cousin, who was sitting next to me and only a year older than me, refused to take off the eyeglasses with the attached funny nose that he was wearing.

I do remember the cheering, when Neil Armstrong's feet hit the dirt, the jumping up off the couch, the general mayhem in the room, my father's ear-splitting grin. He was an Air Force man, and as far as he was concerned, NASA was just a slight step up from the Air Force and practically an exhalted older brother.

My only other memory of that night - and this, I remember clearly - was of all of us running for the back door and out into the tiny backyard of my grandmother's tiny two-bedroom house, and we all turned our faces up in unison, looking up at the moon.

And then as we chattered excitedly, the sounds of the neighbors, also chattering, carried in the night air, and it was clear that everyone, everyone up and down the block - and up and down every block - was outside, staring up at two men on the moon, who were staring back at us. The amazement and the wonder of that moment is still within me today, all these years later. I still get chills remembering it.

I remember this now because my father is here visiting, and I broke out my DVD collection of Tom Hank's HBO miniseries "From The Earth To The Moon," and we did a marathon viewing over the weekend. When we hit the episode with the first moon landing, my daughter happened to be on the couch with her phone, barely glancing up. This is old news to her. This is her parent's news. And her grandparent's.

News now is a new iPhone release. A music video collaboration between two of her favorite artists. A reality show.

It's all so...


So finite. So chained to the here and now with bells and whistles and hyping headlines screaming at you from a thousand web pages and flying across Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts. Maybe even vaguely detailed in a blog somewhere.

It doesn't have the brilliant light of everything in the universe at our fingertips. The far-seeing vision of the future of the human race. News isn't out there anymore. Not like it used to be.

If I could bottle that feeling and give it to my children, I would. If I could give it to every child, I would. If I could turn their eyes to the night sky in wonder, in awe, if I could have them wave with every ounce of energy they had in their lanky, scrawny arms, sure in the knowledge that some wild adventurer was up there waving back, and calling out to them:

Join me. Do it. Reach for it. Keep your eyes on the future and don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.

We need that back.

We really, really do.

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