August 29, 2013

Going to the Moon

I've been thinking a lot about the moon lately. The full moon was last week. I've been planning two upcoming moon-centered programs with a naturalist at the Wellington Reservation: one in November about observing the first-quarter moon, and one in December about observing under a new-moon sky (so that one's really about the absence of the moon...but still). I went to the library and checked out a stack of books dealing with lunar observation, mythology, exploration...and one that asks the question "What if there were two moons in our sky?" 

A couple nights ago I watched a charming documentary, Lunarcy, that profiles various moon enthusiasts operating on the fringes. One character that stood out in particular to me was Christopher Carson: a man obsessed with mounting a grass-roots effort to colonize the moon. Perhaps his ideas are a bit outside the norm, but I confess that I was still inspired by his resolve, persistence, and unfailing hope in the face of monumental challenges. Toward the end of the documentary, Carson is given the opportunity to meet Alan Bean, a former astronaut turned painter, and one of his special heroes.

Here is how the scene plays out.
Carson (driving a car): Today, I am heading over to have a little chat with the great Alan Bean. The path that he took to get to the moon is not anything like the path I'm taking, and it's not a path which is open to me....Alan is kind of interesting because in a sense here's one guy from my town who went to the how many more?  
In Bean's Studio: Carson: You can't accomplish anything just by talking about it, you've gotta go out there and get actual experience. 
Bean: You do. If something's gonna happen, people are gonna hafta actually do it. 
Carson: I suppose the question is, do you have any advice for another hometown boy who never thought of himself as being the most special person in the world, but really would like to do those great things? If you have anything, you know, you could suggest...? 
Bean: Well, I can suggest that moving history forward, which is what you're talking about, a very worthy endeavor, is difficult. Don't lose your spirit. And you've gotta get other people. And all of you working together MAY be able to achieve the dream you're talking about.  
Carson: Well, Thank you! Thank you... 
Carson (speaking excitedly soon after his visit): Every time I have contact with somebody who really has done these things, it serves, I guess, as a kind of a pick-me-up, or a booster...or just a reminder, you know, that this is not (as one in the dark of the night thinks) "is this really just a dream, is this really just a fantasy, is this truly realistic?" And I can say "NO! Look! This guy! Right here! This guy who's got his arm around my shoulder. This is a guy who's actually gone...Clop, Clop, Clop, ACROSS THE SURFACE OF THE MOON! SO, if somebody says, "Oh, that's crazy." What crazy?! What crazy?! It's not crazy. It's as real as the living flesh of the man who's hand I am shaking." 
So when you think about it, the moon, once a symbol of the utterly unattainable...of the pie-in-the-sky impossible dreams that we can only reach for and miss...might now most reasonably serve as a symbol of what IS possible...the pie-in-the-sky we could actually touch, and taste, and feel under our moon boots as we bound across its surface at a fraction of our Earthly weight.

Well...I don't know if I'll actually ever be so lucky. But some have been. And who's to say that Carson, and others like him, won't make it either? 

Anyway. As I said at the beginning of this post: I've been thinking a lot about the moon lately...and so I made this collage...

As with my last one, it's assembled from torn pieces of black construction paper, spattered and brushed with varying levels of white paint. I've enjoyed exploring this new (for me) mode of creativity. My past work hasn't always had such a prominent textural aspect. I almost feel I could come in for a landing on this surface...

1 comment:

  1. Most excellent! I am inspired!! I wonder what dreams may come