Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Though it’s been on my mind recently due to all the media attention, it’s never been that far from my mind. When I think of the formative moments and events that have shaped and influenced my life, the moon landing has to be placed at the very top.
Below is a two-part essay —two separate writings from earlier this year on my daily Spoke And Word Facebook page. If you’re not already following that page, please take the time to do so. My daily Spoke And Word Facebook posts are brief and informal musings I write each morning, reflecting on my bike ride from the day before.
Part I: One And Not Quite The Same…
I was roughly the same age on the day The Eagle landed on the moon as my brother was on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated earlier in the decade.
My brother is now in his early 60s, and I’m in my late 50s. We live roughly 1,000 miles apart, he in Colorado and me California. He is an attorney and I’m a fitness trainer.
Throughout our lives I have considered us to be close. We communicate regularly, see each other when we can, and we consider each other good friends.
My brother and I share a handful of similarities that are probably rooted halfway between our common genetics and the social influences we shared growing up — parental influences notwithstanding.
We both enjoy drinking Diet Coke. We like to wear Oxford shirts even as casual attire. We love dogs. We find humor in dark places and at dark times. We both enjoy jumping off rural bridges into the rivers below. We both hate the Oakland Raiders with all the hate you can possibly hate something with.
We each see the world a little differently though.
With so much in common, I often wonder why I lean toward optimism in matters of social cooperation and the political landscape we currently live in, and why he leans more towards a negative outcome for mankind.
I blame John F Kennedy, but not directly.
My brother was roughly 6-years old when President Kennedy was assassinated. Six years old — that’s a very formative time in most everyone’s life.
When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, I was only a little older than my brother was on the day Kennedy was killed. A formative time in my life as well.
When I think about those two world events, and that it’s fair to say they are two of the more significant events in American history, it makes me wonder how significant each of those events might have been in influencing the respective sensibilities of my brother and I.
As I rode my bike to the coast yesterday, after reading an article about the social influence of the Moonlanding compared to the social influence of the Kennedy assassination, and with my blood pumping hard, the serotonin exchange increasing my mental acuity, and as I was taking it all in, I wondered if those two events — the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Neil Armstrong taking “one small step for a man” might be the primary events that established our respective outlooks on life.
Viscerally, I know that many things have contributed to forming and shaping the sensibilities of my brother and I. On some level though, I think there’s something to this.
My brother has read nearly every book and probably invested more thought into the Kennedy assassination than anyone I know. And for my part, rarely a week goes by, especially in these seemingly divided times, when I don’t look back on a time when the world stood still, took a deep breath, and watched a manmade miracle unfold before our eyes.
I think we need another moon landing.
Part II: Chasing Michael Collins…
As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the Moon, Michael Collins had become the most distant human being, proximate to the earth, ever. That record would later be ‘eclipsed’ by the crew of Apollo 13 during the lunar orbit they required to get back to earth — but at least they had each other.
I think about Michael Collins often though — all the time actually, for having done something no human being had ever done before and something most people have not given enough consideration to. For a moment in time, Michael Collins was the most isolated human being, ever.
God how I envy and even aspire to that some days — most days.
In these days of lifeless discourse, relentless argument, and fruitless conversation continually wearing down my psyche and my spirit with so much caustic intention, I often long to be Michael Collins — the most distant person from earth.
As close as I will ever get though, to the glorious isolation Collins alone experienced, is being on my bikes. Perhaps I am on the ground and proximate to others, but as I am absorbed into the rhythm of my ride, as my breath draws deep, and as my legs turn repeatedly to get me the hell out of the moments that too often eat me alive, I am as far from this earth as I could possibly be, or at least from the people in it.
“I knew I was alone in a way that no earthling has ever been before“. Michael Collins
In that sense, Michael Collins took a risk even Armstrong and Aldrin did not have to face. For a moment in time, he was lonelier than God.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes ridden: 4
15.6 mph avg
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Three Dog Night. Enjoy…