February 13, 2008
The Birthday Boy and the Moon Man
We all know the date and time when the first men landed on the moon, and the name of the first astronaut to set foot there; but very few outside of my family are aware that this event happened on my birthday. That’s not a matter for historians to consider; but to me, it is a big deal. In fact, the moon has had a special place in my heart ever since I was six years old and watched the grainy, black and white footage of Neil Armstrong hopping off a ladder on the side of the lunar module.
That day wasn't a typical birthday scene with my family seated around the dining room table waiting for me to blow out the candles on my birthday cake. I remember having one of those conical, cardboard hats on with a rubber band chinstrap digging into my skin. Yet, there was a distraction in the form of a television broadcast repeating this momentous event for the world to see. The landing was a technological miracle, if you will, and knockout punch to the Russians who led the U.S.A. in the space race up until then. Every American shared a sense of pride in this accomplishment, especially Long Islanders, as the Grumman Corporation made the lunar module. However, I was just a kid; and as much as I wanted to be thrilled about this new world of space travel and astronauts walking on the lunar surface, I was a bit angry at Mr. Armstrong for ruining my party with his spectacular interruption.
I got over my annoyance quickly, however, as the allure of all things related to the cosmos caught up with me during those exciting times when we all watched men in space suits bounce around in the light gravity on our closest heavenly neighbor.
All my life I’ve been a night person. There is a mystery to the evening sky which draws my eye to its inky shores sparkling with celestial jewels. Throughout history the moon, planets, and stars have beguiled both kings and paupers alike. My own life takes a turn now and then, and the moon offers solace; it’s gentle face beckoning in its resolve to always be there.
My friend, this moon which poets and scholars often describe, searches for me whenever I am at my bedroom window during the early hours. Sometimes full, other times partially shrouded, it hides among the clouds when the weather denies us our conversations. My bond with this rocky creature, which can be described as alive if one believes in its power as I do, is unshakable as I look away from time to time only to be cosmically nudged back into its embrace.
Perhaps I was a part of the moon, once. We are all constructed of particles which existed in some form or another over time. I feel echoes of its creation whenever I am driving home and the car radio lulls my ears and allows my eyes to focus ahead on the road glistening with rich, reflected sunlight. That the moon does not radiate its own energy is a myth; the sun merely highlights it. The moon winks at me when I deny I am a follower.
It knows my secrets, and I confide in the sky during my moments of hardship. Those moments of fear, doubt, sorrow, and anxiety; hours and hours of sleeplessness where the window acts like a portal to the only object which has seen it all from the beginning. It knows my faith in God, hears my struggle with mortality, seeks to assuage my guilt for sins, and sins again, for which my fault seems eternal.
Not long ago, a boy was captivated by a bright, orbiting vehicle in the night sky. He was drawn to it, and never will see it up close, not while he remains on this planet, and not while he is alive. On a dark night, maybe a few short decades from now, God willing, there will be a window nearby through which he can peek at his friend and say hello, just before he begins his journey to the surface of the moon.
Dear Readers: My friends JD, author of The Uneasy Supplicant, and fellow Midnight Wanderer, and Bob Johnson, author of Black Holes and Astrostuff, were the inspirations for this post. Thank you, gentleman, for your fine writing and for your blogging friendship. Please visit their blogs and be educated.
astronaut Grumman kings Long Island moon Neil Armstrong paupers Venus