Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reach for the Stars

I haven't written in a while, and with thoughts and ideas bouncing around my head like a beam of light reflected by a million mirrors it seemed a good time to put pen to paper... er.... fingers to keys and let some words out into the world.

This was supposed to be a post about Lance Armstrong, doping, the spirit of competition, and inspiration. This was supposed to be a post asking questions and challenging my perceptions - and hopefully yours - about athletes, sports, and the fans that support them. 

Then another Armstrong died.

I grew up a big sports fan, not just of hockey (ice hockey for those who require the clarification) but sports in general. I was blessed with above average, but not noteworthy, skills in a few areas and to watch elite athletes perform at such a high level left me in awe. However, equally inspiring were the people that understood (or wanted to know) how our world and the universe around it behaved, as well as the people that were were not afraid to go out and explore it.

Galileo, Curie, Bohr, Darwin, Feynman, ... 

Yeager, Gagarin, Sheppard, Glenn, ... 

Armstrong.

Say what you want about the moon landings (insert conspiracy theory here) and the fact that there was a list that stretched from here to the moon of people who would have accepted the offer to be the first one to set foot on it, the fact is that Neil Armstrong was the man that was chosen, and Neil Armstrong will forever be the man who made history, and inspired billions.

He was the first person to set foot on the moon. Think about that for a second. Only a precious few had even ventured that far into space before, and exactly zero had left the "comfort" of a spacecraft, donned what had to have felt like the thinnest piece of clothing ever, and set foot on the closest extra terrestrial object we could find - a mere 384,400 km away. Most people cannot truly comprehend exactly how far away that is. Walk around the Earth's equator 9 times and you won't have traveled as far.

By stepping off that ladder and onto the cold, grey, desolate expanse of Earth's only satellite, Neil Armstrong forever changed the way people would view the universe. You want to talk about inspiration? I'm not going  suggest you take a look at his Wikipedia page or check out his A&E Biography. I'm going to ask you to go outside when there's a full moon, look up, and think about the fact that there's a boot print up there left behind by a guy from Ohio.

The instant Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon the phrase "reach for the stars" was no longer a metaphor.