Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Realized Dreams

Geese and Human Beings in Flight

Since the first human brain crossed the evolutionary threshold into the capacity to dream of what could be, the dream of flight was paramount. It took us a good long while of dreaming, but once we made the jump, it was an exceedingly fast evolution, from December 17, 1903 to July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface.

My first time off the ground was in a small private plane above Wichita, Kansas. My first commercial flight was from Kansas City to Philadelphia, and we flew through towering white cloud canyons and brilliant sunlight the entire route. It was too enchanting to be frightening even though each change in the angle of the airplane caused something loose within the walls of the plane to rattle from one end of the cabin to another.

We are such an arrogant and difficult species that we take the miraculous accomplishment of routine air travel for granted. To add insult, some of our troublesome brethren have instigated the foolish conspiracy theory that walking on the moon was an elaborate hoax. If western civilization suddenly falls into ruins or gradually declines into obscurity, the human race may indeed forget men first walked on the moon in the twentieth century. Some future historian may uncover bits of the fake moon landing theory and cast the hateful light of doubt forever upon one of mankind's most amazing achievements.

Now in the twenty-first century, America has given up the dream of flying to other worlds, agreeing to hitch rides into space. America has been conquered by the frightened, the small- minded, the angry and the hateful. We have killed our collective shining dream, once given voice by our young President when he said "We choose to go the the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Despite the political vagaries, the rise and fall of fortunes, the ebb and flow of civilization, nature will hold the dream of flight for mankind. As long as it is necessary, wild geese will migrate, making their long seasonal flight high in the cloud canyons. And beneath the night sky, a human being listening for their traveling calls will feel the old evolutionary urge to follow them into the sky.


Anonymous said...

I love your new camera and your developing photographer's eye!

Li'l Ned said...

Perhaps the most important moment in the space program (and I know it was real for sure because my father worked for NASA, got to see and touch the moon rocks) was the moment a human being finally got far enough away from Earth to be able to see it against the backdrop of black, empty space and pinpoint lights of faraway stars.
I have faith we'll get back out there. Maybe it's not so important that it be 'us/US' that takes the next step. The important thing is that we keep reminding ourselves of the treasure that is our blue-green jewel of a home in the cosmos.

Li'l Ned said...

Speaking of geese and humans in flight. I recently heard a radio interview with one of the pilots who annually leads the whooping crane migration from north to south, flying an ultralight aircraft. There is something hopeful for me, in that humans, having nearly destroyed not just an entire migration route but a whole species (obviously not the first or the only, but it's something), are now using our closest technological imitation of birds' natural abilities, to restore the birds themselves, and now, to recreate and re-establish the long-abandoned migration. The pilot spoke of how the birds fly only inches behind the aircraft -- how amazing that must feel, to be so close to those magnificent, huge white birds -- to hear their wings beating, feathers rustling in the wind, their cries of encouragement to each other!