Making Footprints in Galaxies Far Away and Here at Home
Don’t ask me to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity, but there’s a star out there, jet-setting around the Milky Way’s Black Hole – destined to test it. S0-102, its name. And maybe one day, if man is successful, it’ll help us to better understand the bending – or rather, curving – of time and space.
Next door on Mars, curiosity hasn’t killed the Rover. Instead Curiosity has resulted in the discovery of ancient water streams. What does that mean? Only time will tell because in this case, space is relative. Mars is our neighbor. And that gives man more to contemplate.
Perhaps, we wonder: were there really men on Mars – space cousins? A great civilization? But like Pompeii, like the dinosaurs – they perished? And if so, is that an omen? For us?
Perhaps, we decide: what happens on Mars, stays on Mars? Bring Curiosity home! We don’t want confirmation of bad news.
No, instead we agree: we boldly go, and continue to make footprints. In space. And right here at home.
We make footprints like Neil Armstrong, designated as the reluctant hero when he recently passed away in late August. But as the first man to walk on the moon, Armstrong will long be remembered. His lunar footprints are immortalized just like his lunar words four decades ago: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
In Armstrong’s honor and the honor of all others who boldly went – wherever their destinies took them through time – through history – we boldly go too.
Armstrong’s death was a poignant reminder of our limitations – no matter how far we go, we cannot control time and space. We cannot control the future. We cannot even control today.
But that doesn’t mean we should just halt. Instead, it means that we should be eager to send more Rovers like Curiosity out there, and we should continue to test such things as Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Of course, being control freaks might make life a little easier. But it would also make life a little too dull knowing what to expect every day, every minute, every second.
The excitement of life is in the discovery. Learning new things. Discovering new galaxies. Out there. And here at home.
Yes, it’s true: we don’t know the future. We don’t know what future we’ll face – even in our personal lives. And that’s kind of scary. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t always great days ahead. Great discoveries. Great excitement.
I remember the excitement as a child watching all the space shuttle launches. The NASA countdown was thrilling to me. I loved when they said, “All systems go.” I loved the rocket engines roaring – the breakaway – as we leaped into space.
During my early days as a journalist, I covered an astronaut’s visit to Lafayette. I don’t remember his name. But I clearly remember who he said his role model was – his hero – the man who helped him fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor in space. The man who inspired him as a boy.
He flashed his slide presentation, and we all cheered as a photo of Dr. Leonard McCoy appeared on the screen. The original McCoy. The real McCoy.
And for us Trekkies in the audience, he was also “Bones” – the endearing nickname that Captain Kirk called him. Perhaps if he were here, he would say, “I’m not an astronaut, I’m a doctor.” But he – a fictitious character – had inspired an astronaut decades later to achieve reality.
So it doesn’t matter who your role models are. It doesn’t matter if they’re real or not. All that matters is there are role models. There are heroes. And that they inspire you to not only exceed, but for you to also provide inspiration for others.
When Armstrong died, his family released a statement, which included: “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”
We know not where life will lead us, but we don’t want to take life for granted. And since life was breathed into our bodies, we each have a role to play.
And that role should benefit mankind. No matter how large or how small.
Therefore, we must each take a step. And consider it as a leap of faith for mankind.
It begins with us – you and me. So – at this moment, at this time, consider taking your first step into whatever dreams you have, into whatever galaxies you want to go. Remember, like a baby, we will totter and fall. Maybe more times than not, but we must still take that first step.
As long as there are Milky Ways and other galaxies out there – and here at home, we must boldly go.
And like Neil Armstrong, it may be a small step. At first.
C’mon, are you ready? And remember, don’t forget to wink.
Ruth Foote is SMILE’s Director of Grants/Communications. She can be reached at (337) 234-3272, Ext. 210. Email her @ firstname.lastname@example.org.