Today I watched a live video feed from an aero-space control center in Darmstadt, Germany where scientists and engineers pored over computer screens as data arrived that finally confirmed that Philae, the probe sent to land on a comet hundreds of millions of miles from earth, had hit its target and attached itself to its surface.
The control room was initially electric with anticipation and then, when success was verified, the place was rocked by spontaneous outpourings of joy/relief/gratitude/amazement from the assembled flight controllers who experienced the successful landing of an experimental craft on the surface of a comet hurtling through space--a project that had begun more than a decade ago. The mothership, Rosetta, has been traveling millions of miles through space to get to this encounter with the comet for 10 years!
For me, this accomplishment puts my current life in perspective. Earlier in the day I had been wondering how today would go for me--dealing with the issue of an undelivered newspaper, wondering if my cold car would start to take me to an appointment with the dentist to have a crown installed, and the mixed feelings I have about a workout session this afternoon that may or may not add additional healthy time to my life here on earth. Those were my concerns--really important, right? They seemed so at the time.
But then, as I viewed the events as they took place in the command center in Germany (thinking unintentionally and briefly about Germany's negative impact on much of the 20th century), I was overpowered by what I consider the incredible combination of education, expertise, dedication to a goal, focus, knowledge, self-discipline, technological advances, priority-setting (individually and collectively), financial outlay, etc. required to pull off a mission of this magnitude and complexity. I was also overwhelmed by the amount of cooperation required and sustained for years among nations who, at other times, have been at each other's throats, killing and conquering and destroying people, culture, and the land itself.
But what I felt most and choose to remember was the pure elation and joy; I shared both the smiling faces and ebullient feelings with those engineers and scientists who left their computer displays to cry, smile, cheer, high-five, jump up and down, hug each other, and act excited like grown up kids. Their feelings were palpable for me, uplifting, tear-evoking, exciting, fulfilling, and they made me glad to be a member of the human race for the first time in longer than I care to remember.
And yes, the newspaper will be replaced, the crown will be cemented in place, and I'll dutifully walk my 5000 steps--getting nowhere--and certainly not covering anything close to the hundreds of millions of miles traversed by Rosetta during the past decade.
A welcome to readers
As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime: