The achievement of sending humans to the moon is often cited as an example of the magnitude of what humanity can achieve when we set ambitious intentions and pursue big dreams and visions! So I was pleased to watch a DVD about it recently.
The DVD is called “In The Shadow of the Moon” – a 2007 documentary presented by Ron Howard which “tells the story of the men who went to the moon in their own words”.
Against a backdrop of the Cold-War and a race to be first to the moon, the American space program spanning 1968 to 1972 could have only ever have achieved what it did through enormous levels of co-creation, co-operation and collaboration between talented individuals – in teams – who were able to deliver on their president’s vision to send humans to the moon. What an amazing endeavour! Amazing aspects that jumped out at me as I listened to the now retired astronauts describing their experiences were….
… it only took 3 days to travel to the moon – a 6 day return trip, plus time there of course, in orbit or landing
… steeped in all the necessary “left brain” demands of a space mission – all that attention to engineering details, the precision timing, the science and logic of the equipment and operational tasks, all that dry, abrupt communication back and forth between space craft and ground control in military-speak – the Apollo missions were none-the-less emotional experiences too, fueled as they were the dreams of a nation and revealing as they did new perspectives on the beauty of our galaxy. Emotions such as awe and wonder were irrepressible – especially those on board. One of the astronauts describes in the doco his epiphany of feeling completely one with the whole universe as he journeyed through space. And even after all this time many could not keep the look of pure joy from lighting up their face as they reminisced about their missions to or around the moon.
…. the experience of looking back at Earth from the moon is brought to life – for example one astronaut describes how when he held his thumb up in his line of sight to Earth, our whole planet was completely covered by his thumb!
…. it is apparent that the impact of seeing planet Earth from that distant vantage point was powerful in shifting perceptions and clarifying values eg some who spoke to camera described gaining a greater appreciation of this planet as an “oasis” and a “Garden of Eden” – gaining a greater sense of responsibility to treat her well, and realising how pointless are the “terrestrial squabbles” in which we engage.
… the missions that took humans to the moon created much excitement, particularly the Apollo 11 mission where humans took the first steps on moon. JFK’s announcement to the American congress in 1961 of this ambitious intention for the space program had indicated it would be about “not one man going to the moon but the whole nation”, and when the first steps were taken there was in fact a sense of triumph that spread well beyond American shores. Apparently Neil Armstrong, Buz Aldron and Mike Collins – all from the Apollo 11 mission – were greeted with tickertape parades in every country they toured, with people joyfully shaking their hands and saying “we did it”….
“In the Shadow of the Moon” is great viewing if you want to let history inspire your spirit with possibility, adventure, achievement and success – and with the magnitude of what can be achieved together! The human stories that are shared in the doco are very powerful in reminding us of our vast potential as a humanity, and the Unity that can be created with the endeavours we choose to pursue and the potentials we choose to explore and develop. For me that brings my attention back from space to our earthly endeavours – and how it is still relevant for us to let that huge shift in global perception continue to inspire us in our efforts to enhance the conditions for life on this planet.
As I write this blog I find Bette Midler’s lyrics springing to mind, and so include a youtube clip below of her singing “From a Distance”. Indeed, having seen our planet Earth from afar humanity can never un-see it, and it has undoubtedly touched our hearts and minds for the better. Let’s keep that image of planet Earth always burning bright – checking in with how we are going if we were to look at our planet from a distance.