Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Seeing it again...for the first time
Y'all know I like history and space and trying to take an event from the past and tie it to something relevant today. Well, I'm going to try it again here.
Forty years ago just about right now, 3 p.m. EST on Dec. 23, men from Earth were, for the first time (that we know of, of course), entering the gravitational influence of another celestial body. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders were piloting their Apollo 8 command module on man's first trip to the moon. Like its predecessor, Apollo 7, this capsule didn't have a name, unlike those that would follow: Apollo 11's Columbia, Apollo 13's Odyssey and Apollo 17's America. (The other names can be found here.)
Three guys in a 210 cubic foot space, one of them puking from space sickness and suffering from diarrhea (Borman), headed to the moon. Imagine their families, never again able to complain on a vacation road trip.
"Dad, I need to stop, the cheese curds are making me sick."
"Son, did I ever tell you about the time I was on the way to the moon and my buddy Frank was hurling all over the capsule? I have? Well, then suck it up."
Imagine though, being the first person to ever see the Earth rise over the horizon of the moon. They went a long way, but they saw something amazing. Something no one had ever seen before.
You may think to yourself, "I'll never see anything for the first time," and this may be true. You may never be the first person ever to see something, but you're always seeing things for the first time. And you never know, you don't need to go to the moon to discover something new like, say, a 400-foot waterfall.
Neither here nor there. The important thing is, even if you're not an astronaut, as humans we're genetically compelled to seek out new experiences and sights. So, since most of us have the next couple of days off, give yourself a present and do something new.
Go to Great Falls (it's beautiful in the winter). Go to the National Arboretum (yeah, I know it's up in Northeast, but take advantage of the daylight and make a run for it). Go visit the renovated American History Museum. Go to the Textile Museum (yeah, there's a textile museum up near the Woodrow Wilson House, who knew?).
I don't care what you do.
Just. Do. Something. New.
I don't know what I'm going to do. Everything I've mentioned I've done (except for the history museum, but I'm saving that for February). Anybody got a suggestion? I don't mind the cold...too much... and I don't even mind driving somewhere to see something new and interesting. One of my greatest regrets (OK, maybe not regret) is living in Texas for six years and never seeing Big Bend National Park.
To borrow from Borman and the crew of Apollo 8 on this day before the day before Christmas, I close this by saying, "...Good night, good luck, and a Merry Christmas to all of you, all of you on the good Earth."