"We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians." --Edgar Mitchell

"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth." --William Anders

Monday, August 16, 2010

There are few things in life that can bring you up short and put everything in stark perspective. For myself these things more often than not are pictures of the cosmos. Or from the vantage of being *in* the cosmos, but pointed homeward. And once seeing the photographic evidence, I don't always feel it necessary to go out and see it with my own eyes. I am appreciative and grateful for the fact that such an amazing vista was captured for posterity, and I am aware that these things are often much more impressive when viewed for oneself, but I know that I cannot travel everywhere I want to see.
The curvature of the earth is not such a sight. I see photographs like this:

and I have an aching need to be there, to see the glowing blue curve and watch the dancing ribbons. I don't even have to *see* the picture. It's described quite vividly in Arthur C. Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise, and I knew that this was a sight that I would spend my life working to see.

This is not to say that I am getting my degree for this sole reason. That couldn't be farther from the truth. But to say that I am being purely objective and rational about the whole thing is not giving the complete picture. Under all the reason and analytical tendencies is a romantic notion that just won't let go. It has survived the roughest parts of my life (thus far, at least), and pushed me to return to school in a field I had all but given up hope on being a part of. Reason would have kept me out of school, kept me pursuing linguistics (which I genuinely love). But romance and idealism has won out.

No, no, I don't need to go into that. Teh piktar! Iz it not AWESOME!?

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