On July 20, 1969, I was 4 years old, but really almost five. On that night, I stood in the front yard of my grandmother’s house. Like most people living in Florida, Mamaw White had a tidy, little, white, stucco house. I remember that little house glowing that night. It was a magical night. I was four and three quarters plus and anything was possible. Even the impossible. That night, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon and I saw them do it. Walking around up there. A girl who is four years and 10 months old can see farther than just about anyone.
Not so much anymore. These days, I see the impossible through keyholes. A lifetime of experience has narrowed my field of view – economic reality, government regulation, social obligations, the vagaries of nature, physical limitations. But I still see the impossible, little glimmers of hope, that I’ll get it right. That we’ll all get it right in the end.
Tonight, standing in the front yard, my husband and my sons and I watched the Minotaur rocket launch from Wallops Island, on the eastern shore of Virginia. For us, it was just a brief comet like flash in the night sky, followed by darkness and a final burst of sparks in the night. A far off Roman candle. A moonshot.
Not impressive at all. Just a tired old firework in the night sky. A miraculous feat of human engineering made pedestrian by the marvels we live with every day. It saddens me there is so little wonder left in my sons, and in the world in general. In truth, there is very little wonder left in me, but because I farm, I do manage to stumble upon moments where little impossibilities become reality. A chick emerging from a shell. A seed bursting with new life. A fig ripening. Learning to speak duck. A cuddle from Ophelia.
I am making a conscious effort these days to widen the keyhole that’s hemmed me in and think in terms of what I can do instead of what I can’t. Most days I don’t succeed because I have so few successes and so many failures. It’s a hard thing to reach for the stars when you’ve had yet another crop failure or lost another beehive.
But that miracle of 1969 – men walking on the moon and the little girl who saw them do it – that memory resides in a quiet little corner in my soul and every now and then I glimpse the enormous potential of the work I do, of the work we all can do . . . if we would be still for a moment and allow ourselves to be awed by world again.
All it takes is a little faith and trust . . . and a little bit of pixie dust.
We can fly!