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.

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20 comments:

Bob Johnson said...

Wow, I wish I could write like that, you explained how I feel about the Cosmos and the Moon, don't know why I do, just happy I do, beautiful post, It is too cool your birthday is on the same day Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon for the very first time.

Swubird said...

Wow! What a birthday! I remember July 21, 1969 very well. I sat up all night like I always did when something exciting was happing in the space program. I'd drink coffee and stay tuned to the tube catching every tidbit of info. I loved it all. When the astronauts broadcast themselves on television for the whole world to see, I wished that I had a secret angel that could turn me into a star traveler too.

Cherish your birthday, my friend. There's not much we get out of life for all our efforts, but to share your birth with such a great event as touching another world, is truly a thing to be proud of.

I also love your personal tribute to the Moon.

Have a nice evening.

Swubird said...

Wow! What a birthday! I remember July 21, 1969 very well. I sat up all night like I always did when something exciting was happing in the space program. I'd drink coffee and stay tuned to the tube catching every tidbit of info. I loved it all. When the astronauts broadcast themselves on television for the whole world to see, I wished that I had a secret angel that could turn me into a star traveler too.

Cherish your birthday, my friend. There's not much we get out of life for all our efforts, but to share your birth with such a great event as touching another world, is truly a thing to be proud of.

I also love your personal tribute to the Moon.

Have a nice evening.

footiam said...

The moon and other planets have, since ancient time, always hold a fascination for man and it's a wonder that such lifeless mass of solid can bring so much beauty into a msn's life. It's a beautiful world, isn't it?

Peter said...

Hi! The Moon holds a special place in my heart as well, as I also watched the landing when just a boy. Many moons ago!

There have been times when I've looked at the moon and just wondered how many others were looking at it at the same time as me.

Then I try to guess how many others have looked at it from the very first time man looked upon it.

No matter what our differences are, we all have one thing in common - we love to look at the Moon.

Thank you for sharing this story!

Take Care,
Peter

joderebe said...

What memories that brought back of the day. I can distinctly remember the grainy b & w images on the old model floor TV. I sat there watching , riveted, as my Dad in his infinitesimal wisdom added comments on what was happening.
Mike excellent piece of writing. I am honored that you think of me as one of your inspirations. Funny, I think of you as the same.
Truly love your lines. There are many excellent ones but the one that leaped out at me was the following, and I quote "Hears my struggle with mortality, seeks to assuage my guilt for sins, and sins again, for which my fault seems eternal." That line, for me, speaks volumes. Well done!
Take care Mike. I'll be emailing you shortly.
~JD

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,
It's truly a pleasure to have a knowledgable man such as yourself as a visitor to my blog. Thansk for the kind words and I am glad I was able to convey your feelings with this post. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Swubird, I am truly grateful to have you as a reader here. I never believed I would have such intelligent folks such as you coming to my blog when I started this thing.
I do cherish my birthday and I read up on the moon and watch footage of the landing once a year when I celebrate. I think many of us wished that there was an angekl who could us into star travelers.

http://history.nasa.gov/ap11ann/introduction.htm

You need to know that I am a fan of your blog and I really enjoy reading what you publish there. Thanks again for your kind words here. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi footiam,
Well said, my friend. I agree that it's a wonder that such lifeless mass of solid can bring so much beauty into a man's life, and it is a beautiful world and universe. Thanks for reading. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Peter, It is truly a belssing to have a reader such as you come to my blog. I never thought of it that way, to wonder how many others ae gazing at the moon at the same time I am. Using the moon to put all of humanity into perspective, that everything we are and all that we do is done under the watchful eye of the moon is profound as well. Thansk for your thoughtful contribution here, Peter. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
I'm glad you liked that one line as it meant a lot to me as well. You inspired me with your post which reminded me of my mid-life crisis which came and went within about a month. There's a funny story about that, and maybe it's the subject of a blog post later on. But, you did inspire me, both you and Bob with his extensive knowledge of space. To my fellow Midnight Wanderer, thanks for the inspiration, my friend. -Mike.

Mike French said...

"Perhaps I was a part of the moon, once. We are all constructed of particles which existed in some form or another over time."

Well M2 you are actually made out of star dust. Cool eh?

To be specific dead stars that have collapsed under their gravity and gone supernova. This forms the heavy elements during the explosion which are my friend part of you.

Amazing place that dark sky above you. It holds wonders in its vastness and wonders placed inside the heart that beats within you.

Anna said...

Mike, firstly, happy belated birthday, the day man landed on the moon, and day before Valentines. Thanks for sharing this well written inspirational post. Myself I have been inspired a lot by Bob, he was the first blogger friend that religiously would visit my blog and always comment on my moon photos, at first I though he was stalking me, but then I understood more the blogging regulations, lol. Mike again, happy birthday, and thanks for sharing. Anna :)

Kristyn said...

You share your birthday with the moon landing, that's wonderful. To have something so memorable to share your day with is rare! Your birthday is only three days before mine! I was born July 23rd!

I enjoyed your tale very much, Mike, especially considering I, too, am a night person. The night holds an unexplainable allure for for me, perhaps its the utter still of the night?

Very best,
Kristyn

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mike (M1), Stardust, eh? Right now, with the weight I put back on this winter, I feel like I'm made of the same stuff used to bake doughnuts, lol. Thanks for stopping by, mate. -Mike (M2)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Anna,
Thanks for the belated birthday. I did write this one a bit early, but it was Bob's post about the moon and something JD wrote which inspired me to write this reflection. The July 20, 1969 moon landing seems like ancient history compared to todays space stations and shuttles, but no nation has yet mustered the courage or technology to return for more exploration. I understand what you mean when you thought Bob was stalking you, lol. I had an experience like that when I first started blogging. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kristyn,
We night owls have a way of finding each other, right. JD is one too. I get a kick out of sharing my B'day with that event. Have a good weekend. -Mike.

josey said...

hey, mike! you share a bday with my little sis...only she was born a decade later. hehe! that's how i remember when the moon landing was, since it was before i was born, too ;)

i have always been fascinated with stars, constellations and the moon. in the last year i've been volunteering at a biodynamic farm and have learned how the cycles of the moon are used to benefit the growing of plants and increase their healing properties and nutrients...among so many other things. its AMAZING.

now not only is the moon my familiar smiling confidant in the sky, he's a humble provider for many good living things on earth as well. :)

josey said...

oh and i meant that my sister was born a decade after 1969. ;) not that its a big deal, but i dont want anyone to think i'm older than i really am. LOL!!! ;)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Josey,
I am so happy to hear from you! I thought you disappeared from blog land! I've been so busy with my job, getting home so late, that when I do have tioe to blog, I'm wiped out. Thanks for you comment here:

"now not only is the moon my familiar smiling confidant in the sky, he's a humble provider for many good living things on earth as well. :)"

Now you thik the way I do about the moon! Talk to you soon, Josey...

-Mike.