Every night after I put the kids to bed, I go for a walk. Maybe 5km or so. Partly I do this to clear my head, partly I do it because I enjoy walking, but mostly, I do it because it makes me feel more healthy. All the other benefits are just icing on that cake.
I was out for my walk last night, enjoying the warmest evening we've had in a long time. This meant I wasn't as bundled up as much as I often am, but it also meant I wasnt hunched down into my winter coat to protect myself from the wind or snow. So, instead of trudging along staring at the snow in front of me on the sidewalk, I was looking up at the sky, and the magnificient moon. Specifically what those in the know (apparently) call waxing gibbous - a moon that is between half and full. Who knew?
Somehow it looked so real. So round and there. A grey marble in the sky. I thought to myself 'there is a place I have always dreamed of going, but will likely never get to'. Which made me a bit melancholy, really.
This though led inexorably to thinking of those who actually did get there, the astronauts of the Apollo program that set foot on that grey marble, so far away. So far away, I mused. Have I travelled far enough in my life that if I laid all the journeys I've been on end to end they would reach the moon? 384,000kms? Maybe. Probably not.
But those astronauts did. They sat atop pillars of fire, floated through the nothingness of space, and eventially set foot on that ball, right up there. They did science, they played golf. They drove a pretty silly looking (but equally amazing) car on the surface of that world right up there. Is there anything more quintessentially 1960s American than that, I asked myself.
Then they came home. They climbed back into their spacecraft, travelled through the void, and fire, and water, and came home. Back to the ground. To their houses, their families. Saturday afternoon barbecues with neighbours. Bowling nights. Life.
Did they, I wondered, sit in their back yards on a warm summer evening, with the cicadas buzzing and the humid breeze touching their cheeks and the cool beer bottle in their hand sweating gently, and look up at the moon, that waxing, gibbous moon, hung so tantalizingly close and so very far away?
Did it hurt to think of where they'd been that they'd never be again?
For a moment I imagined what a profound sense of loss, of displacement, that looking up at the moon would manifest in one of those that had been there. Did it hurt to think they'd never feel the pull of that gravity again, so alien and so gentle?
I bet it did.