Apologies, for I have been neglectful on the blogging front recently. Today I came to write a somber piece and found that Neil Armstrong has passed. I’ll keep this brief and possibly end up with two posts by the end of the night.
I’m not writing about Armstrong because he was my hero. I’m not writing about Armstrong because he inspired me. I’m not writing about Armstrong because I’m struggling with the feelings brought up by his passing. I’m writing about Armstrong because of what he, Buzz Aldrin and — to a lesser extent — Michael Collins did.
Occassionally I struggle to find perspective. Everyone has something they like to romanticise about themselves and I do too: I like to highlight my preference for logic and rationality above emotion and irrationality. Unfortunately, it’s nigh on impossible to be rational at all times. There are moments which are so overwhelming and demanding that logic doesn’t kick in, leaving me a slave to my instinct. Every so often I, like every other person in the world, feel like I’m drowning. Like I can’t get my head above the water to take a deep breath of precious air. My judgement is clouded and the staples of my rationality are worn.
Space grounds me. If I find myself struggling with the essentially meaningless circumstances of my life, I think of the vastness of space. What may feel like the end of my world is nothing when I’m one of billions of nine of billions of billions of billions of billions and so on. Thanks to the infinity that is space, one glance towards the skies could have the lives of mind-bogglingly large numbers of people within my sights. Somewhere, millions of light years away, there could be another young man looking towards the skies asking himself if someone else knows how he feels.
Equally, I could look towards the skies and see nothing. The incredible vastness of absolutely nothing. A world of solitude. A place where the loneliness is redefined.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin once sat on that rock that we see at night and saw another rock. A blue rock. Everything was on that blue rock. Michael Collins, not too far from where they were sat, could see the blue rock. Everything is on that blue rock. And they survived. They rejoined the rock and life continued.
What they did — taking humanity to the moon — wasn’t hostile. It wasn’t an act of war. It was an act of love. Possibly the greatest gesture of love to date. They were on that rock, saw all of us and then chose to come back.
The deadline I’m worried about meeting on Monday? It’s nothing. Life will go on. Even when it doesn’t, there will still be rocks going round in circles. Rocks with no greater meaning, no greater purpose. Just rocks. Beautiful rocks. Beautiful, simple rocks.
Thank you, Mr. Armstrong. You showed us another world.