FROM INNER-SPACE TO OUTER-SPACE (and back again): The Ongoing Longing For Who We Are

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
—Neil Armstrong, upon walking on the moon

Whenever I think of space travel and the fact that humans have landed on the moon—supposedly three billion people watched the original lunar landing, Apollo 11, July, 1969—my mind actually goes, ‘Yes, wow, geezuz—but…but so many of our brothers and sisters are still starving tonight.’

I know that comment’s a bit of a downer—bit imagine the despair of hunger.

Anyway, I feel the paradox—and as anyone who knows me knows, I can’t help that take on it. Life, almost by definition, seems to carry an unflinchingly massive discord between what can be done by humans, and what can’t seem to be done by humans.

For instance, humans ‘who have’ can’t seem to collectively help millions, even billions, of people ‘who don’t have’ from being hungry. Heck, we don’t really even know how to begin, what it would look like, or even what the comment actually means. For one day? For forever? And in the lands of the ‘haves’? Heck, if the food supply stopped coming from elsewhere, what would I do? The World Food Program, anybody?

And while we are not seemingly able to find a way to protect hundreds of millons of people from getting, say, highly-preventable diseases, a few of us humans do seem to be able to extract endless resources from the lands of those same people.

Another clip.

And consider the time when the lunar landings were taking place: North and South Vietnam were in hell from the American invasion. Russia was the brutal USSR. China was going through the hateful ‘Cultural Revolution’ etc etc.

I know, I know, okay. And those points weren’t even my point I wanted to make. So before you get too depressed or pissed off at li’l ol’ moi, I’m actually writing to say that space travel and the landing on the moon is and was a truly amazing and awe inspiring spectacle and achievement of technology—the moon, for the love of huge cheese slices.

Heck, it hadn’t been done since Tintin, Captain Haddock, Calculus and Milou did it in 1953, in Syldavia, while sinister forces plotted against them.

And the reason I’m writing about space today is because last night I watched the wonderful and wistful documentary In The Shadow of the Moon.

Reliving the lunar landings (actually, I was only four, so I’m probably reliving Ron Howard’s Apollo 13), I smiled a lot, and cried a little at the end when certain astronauts spoke of the miracle and beauty of this fragile planet, and the sheer lunacy—pun intended—magic and wonder of being alive.

God I wish we could love more—and see and feel a long process, an eternal process, instead of endless apocalyptic shrieks, judgement days, and a constant threat of dire circumstances.

I just really love humans.

Speaking of dire circumstances, one of the astronauts even spoke of the increasing amount of smog pollution seen around cities from spaceships—pollution that wasn’t seen in earlier space trips.

Ain’t we a lot of people doing a lot of things?

And when the moon landing happened in 1969, many of those on earth that appreciated what had taken place really took it as a ‘We did it’—‘We earthlings, sisters and brothers, did it’—regardless of where they lived. That’s kinda cool, temporary as that emotion might have been.

By the way, there are people today who think we humans have never landed on the moon—nine fakes—but simulated the whole thing on some desert-scape in Arizona.

Here are a couple of beautiful comments from the film in which the emotions of these ex-space travellers was contagiously palpable.

Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14:

“The biggest joy was on the way home. In my cockpit window, every two minutes: the earth, the moon, the sun, and a whole three hundred and sixty degree panorama of the heavens.

And that was a powerful, overwhelming experience.

And suddenly I realized the molecules of my body, and the molecules of the spacecraft, and the molecules in the body of my partners were prototyped and manufactured in some ancient generation of stars. And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness. It wasn’t them and us, it was: that’s me. That’s all of it. That’s one thing.

And it was accompanied by an ecstasy. A sense of, “Oh my God. Wow. Yes.” An insight. An epiphany.”

Indeed. And yet in this “oneness” are all these countless individuals—trillions of beings—you and me. For me, that is an even greater, wilder mystery. Why, if there is an essential oneness, did individuality arise? And why back hair on top of that? No, seriously. Why these individual beings completely dependent on the atmosphere—or the water-sphere, or what have you.

This planet in relationship to itself—sulphur expressed from the oceans in just the right amount; oxygen expelled from the plants in just the right amount.

Individuality.

That is a fact that never ceases to fill me with awe.

And it seems to me that individuality, and with it the desire for relationship of some sort, are what gives meaning to being. No individuals, no relationships. No relationships, no love—for love by definition requires another being, be it human or divine or whatever turns your crank. Just as plants need animals and vice versa, love requires beings.

And is it not true, that when we are honest, when we are not too badly injured, all we really want is to live forever and be deeper inside the beauty of it all, free to experience more, and more deeply, with more emotion, without exploding like some spaceship under certain pressures?

Anyway, that’s what I dream of. More love, without causing harm.

If I dance down a street
with my eyes
And my feet feel it too
And my breath goes deep
And I see it in you
Would you be tempted
to lock me up
Or dance along?

And another quote. This one from George Cernan, Apollo 10 and 17:

“I felt that I was literally standing on a plateou somewhere out there in space. A plateau that science and technology had allowed me to get to.

But now what I was seeing, and even more important what I was feeling at that moment in time, science and technology had no answers for—literally no answers.”

I would say the same for love, and art, and laughter.

“Because there I was. And there you are. There you are, the Earth: dynamic, overwhelming.

And I felt that the world was just…there’s too much purpose, too much logic. It was just too beautiful to have happened by accident. There has to be somebody bigger than you and bigger than me. And I mean this in a spiritual sense, not a religious sense.

There has to be a creator of the Universe who stands above the religions that we ourselves create to govern our lives.”

Ah, the mystery—the mystery of being an individual, and the mysterious inconceivability of simultaneous oneness. Welcome to your humanness, my friends, welcome to being. What a journey it is to inner space.

Lots of love to you—and may all beings be fed and loved,

Pete

To finish, a li’l Little Dreamer.

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6 Responses to “FROM INNER-SPACE TO OUTER-SPACE (and back again): The Ongoing Longing For Who We Are”

  1. Erynn says:

    Growing up, the space program was fascinating to me. Watching the various space flights and the moon landing were immense moments in my childhood. I came in with the space age in March of 1961 and I still look back on the flights of the 60s with wonder and astonishment that we — collectively as humans — were able to do something so magnificent.

    I still feel little sparks of that wonder as an adult, though now parts of me think we should spend more time on fixing what’s wrong here than trying to get off the planet. I fear that people will be so desperate to escape that our own dear world will eventually be nothing but a cast-off junkyard and a prison for those who simply can’t afford to leave the devastation behind. I love the dream of space flight and space colonization, but I also see how often people destroy a place and move on.

    Paranoid much, Erynn?

  2. Karen says:

    Hi Pete,

    There’s an expression we use frequently. “They could put a man on the moon, but they can’t make a [insert finicky technology] that works.”

    Like Erynn, I was a space geek too. I remember the Mercury and Gemini programs as well as the moon landings. Ouch!

    I had a friend whose Dad was a project manager on the Lunar Module and assisted in Houston during the Apollo 13 “situation.” He gave us a list of things to watch for during the landings and moon walks. The night of the Apollo 11 moon walk, my Mom, her sisters, my uncles (my Dad watched from work), and the ten of us kids were camped out in our family room. I remember the crackled sound of the radio transmissions, feeling awe that the pictures were coming from the moon, my cousin and I going outside to look at the moon a few times, and my sister repeatedly saying, “Mommy, what did he say?” The adults let us watch until we passed out and then sleep where we landed. Sometime during the night just my aunts and uncles went home, and the TV was still on as we all woke up. I asked my cousin if everything felt different to her. She said yeah and it’s a little weird. I’m willing to wager there are lots of others out there who carry almost identical memories. We are all one and the same in so many ways.

    We were so in awe of it all, yet our children take space travel for granted. How did we become so complacent that many people forget there are people living in space on the space station all year round? When an Apollo spacecraft lifted off, the coverage lasted most of the day. Shuttle launches get airtime if it’s a slow news day.

    If there’s a guiding force to the universe could the burst of creativity necessary for the moon landings have been to give mankind a good look at the earth in the hope we would change the course we were on just as humanity’s unique ability to pollute was coming to the fore? Obviously, we didn’t take the hint, but just a thought.

    The universe is not perfect and as such, cells don’t always replicate perfectly yet are still viable. Wouldn’t that guarantee individuality? Would it be fair to say our incredible individuality might be because of an imperfection in nature? Imperfection being multiplied by the billions of cells in our bodies making us quite imperfect beings, should we try to remember we and those around us are bundles of imperfection and cut each other some slack (e.g., don’t analyze this theory too closely). And should the question be why the lack of back hair?

    I know two folks who truly believe the Apollo moon landings were a hoax. They believe also that dinosaur fossils were made up by scientists to prove evolution. Love them dearly, but what were you saying about individuality and how amazing it is to be human?

    Keep dancing, Pete. Lead the way. Spirit like yours could never be locked up.

    Love to you,
    Karen

    P.S. Happy Birthday Erynn!

  3. Erynn says:

    Thanks Karen! *grin*

  4. Great comments you guys—just a blast. And that’s a sweet thought about the Great God of Universal Intention and Fantastic Sleight of Hand Card Tricks saying, “I’m stumped—hey, what if we send a couple o’ jokers to the moon, they take photos, and these eggheads down below finally catch on, in the depths of their beings, that we are all simultaneously divine, miraculous, individual sparks, and utterly overwhelmed in terms of Universe-to-Little Spark ratio—oh, and that the Earth is a being worth a relationship, great care, devotion and lots of gratitude, awe and converastion.”

    Side-kick: “Yeah! Love it! Let’s do it!”

    A WEEK LATER

    Side-kick: “Well, the photos they took were great, anyway—and you gotta admit, a bunch of great kids really had some fun.”

    GGUIFSHCT (Great God of Universal Intention and Fantastic Sleight of Hand Card Tricks): “True enough, true enough. But still, the US in Vietnam rolls on, and those Russians are just brutal…”

    Side-kick: “And boss, I got another idea that might do the trick—it might bring people together and slowly, if we use it with love, respect and wonder, might lessen the arguments.”

    GGUIFSHCT: “I’m still a little down, but at least tell me what it’s called, so if we talk about it in the future, I’ll remember when you brought it up.”

    Side-Kick: “Well, two things. The first one is to understand their interconnectedness: first I was thinking the Inner Net, but they can’t do it without technology, so something called the Inter-Net. When that catches on—and God knows, with all due respect, I need a better name—but something called a blog.”

    GGUIFSHCT: “You sound enthusiastic. Keep working on it. I’ll be singing great vibratory hymns of love, joy, dance, play and cosmic busking. Call me when it’s figured out. And figure out which people will get credit for it, and then think they really did it!—ha ha!”

    Pete xo

  5. Erynn says:

    You know, I first read that as “cosmic baking” — how alchemical!

    Mmm, the warm, yeasty thoughts of life!

    Did I mention that I have friends in the SF fandom community who still faithfully celebrate Landing Day every year?

  6. Joann says:

    Thanks for sharing your valuable explanations. Apollo 14 explained that
    “The biggest joy was on the way home. In my cockpit window, every two minutes: the earth, the moon, the sun, and a whole three hundred and sixty degree panorama of the heavens”.

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