Lunar Optimism

It’s a bit past the apogee (see what I did there?) of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission. Maybe a long time for us, but to the moon, that’s but 0.000000011 of its history.

The Eagle landed, and it was 2:56 UTC on July 21 when Neil Armstrong stepped out of the door. For a six year old kid in Baltimore, that was 10:56PM at night. Our family was perched in the living room, watching on maybe a 14″ Zenith black and white TV set.

Old 1960s TV set, white dingy case.
Not the exact model of TV we had, but some vintage like this.

It was not part of the living room decor, I can remember Dad placing it atop a folding step stool as a makeshift stand. I was sitting as close as possible to it.

The images were fuzzy, grainy. Live TV events like sports were not unusual, but the idea that something could be transmitted in real time (well there was a delay) from the Moon was rather fitting for the same TV we also watched Star Trek on.

That was the moment.

More memorable from the Apollo era was the special days when the astronauts returned to earth. At Bedford Elementary school they gathered all the students in the auditorium to watch the module splash down in the ocean. There were no giant projection screens, again we saw in what was then large TVs (24″ screens? big box tube TVs) perched on carts, maybe 6 of them for a few hundred kids to watch.

The vivid feeling in the 1970s I felt there was of unlimited optimism. If they could send astronauts strapped in a rocket to the moon, and then return them a few days later, why everything was possible. Certainly by 2000 we’d have flying cars and automated lifestyles.

Or that’s how I remember it.

In 2019, where every day the news is … well you know what it is, that kind of optimism seems as antiquated as the old TVs and plaid pants I wore.

But it need not be gone. So I look to the moon every now and then, and ponder it’s sliver of optimism, of a spark, of maybe large, not unlimited possibility, but still… possibility.

The moon is patient, so I can be too.

Thank you moon, for the reflected optimistic light you send our way.

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