Why the moon landing makes me cry

CULTURE | 5 mins

The moon landing makes me cry.

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Everytime I think about the lunar landing or hear the famous static-ridden words, “That’s one small step for a man…,” I get emotional. That’s weird, right?

On July 20th, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Armstrong became the first person to step on the lunar surface, joined minutes later by Aldrin. That was fifty years ago. For me, the passing of time hasn’t at all diminished how exceedingly incredible that is.

Think about it. Fifty years ago, humans voluntarily allowed themselves to be hurtled through space at incredible speeds, setting their sights for a location no person had ever set foot on… and they actually made it. They walked on the moon. That’s hard for me to wrap my mind around. It fills me with awe, wonder, and it starts the waterworks.

Since I’ve been a kid, space has always been a connection with my dad and I. My parents even made my childhood bedroom space themed—glow in the dark star stickers and all. (And before you say anything, no, never went to space camp. Though, I’d probably go now if there was one for 24-year-old guys.)

Last Sunday, my wife and I went over to my parent’s house to have dinner with them and my older brother. My dad bought the movie/documentary “Apollo 11” and for a while we had it playing in the background, along with some light music playing (shoutout to Spotify’s Bossa Nova Dinner playlist). After about 20 minutes, we were so riveted by what we were seeing, we just stopped talking. My dad turned the music off, I turned the TV up, and my family sat in disbelief together.

My favorite part? Watching my dad relive that fateful day from fifty years ago. He had tears in his eyes nearly the entire time. Because, just as space is a connection point between me and my dad, it was the same for him and his dad, my grandfather.

My father was 11 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. That night, his father let him stay up much later than usual. They grabbed the telescope out of the garage, propped a ladder against the house, and climbed up on the roof of my dad’s childhood home to gaze at the moon together. They sat in wonder, imagining the brave men on the moon’s surface and listening to the radio broadcast of the event.

The moon landing is undoubtedly one of humankind’s greatest achievements. But it’s even more important than that for my family. It connects me back to my grandfather, who passed away when I was still a child. It connects me to my father, a man of influence that I adore. And I hope, one day, it will become a connection point for children that I hope to have.

We’ve all looked at space and felt really small, but have you ever had one of those moments where your smallness, your insignificance, becomes palpable? I’m talking about that sort of overwhelming feeling that lasts no longer than 5 seconds where you get maybe even a little bit scared at how freaking big everything is and how tiny you really are? Most of the time, we shake that feeling off as quickly as we can. Small things aren’t important. They’re weak and vulnerable. Those are words we don’t generally want associated with our lives. But the moon landing, it makes me feel the full weight of that smallness… and I love it.

I yearn for that uncomfortable feeling because, as weird as it sounds, I find it comforting. For me, it’s because I believe God is the opposite of my smallness. God is grand; cosmic; overwhelmingly powerful. He is the definition of significance, of movement, of life. And that God looks down on me, sees my smallness, and yet doesn’t call me insignificant. He calls me his own.

50 years ago, glued to their TV’s and radios, the entire world felt small. No one on earth was bragging about their achievements; their accomplishments; their list of bank accounts or real estate holdings. For a moment in time, we were all small together. And humanity was all the better for it.

In a world where we’re constantly told to be a bigger version of ourselves, to attract attention, to stack up accomplishments, to prove our worth, the more powerful response is to choose smallness. Let yourself feel it.

Written by Alex Stevens on Jul 18, 2019