Please read this part in the voice of legendary character actor Sam Elliot: “Most people leave the Earth once, never to return. But some folks? Some folks are born to leave this world more than once, seeing what’s out there and checking things out before they return one last time to say adios for good.”
OK, now read the rest normal (unless your normal internal monologue is Sam Elliot, which would be pretty cool.)
In 1969 Neil Armstrong went on a trip that members of humanity have imagined since people first discovered “looking up.” Armstrong was the first man to step foot on the moon, and he will remain the first person to go to another celestial body forever.
In 2102 he embarked on the other journey mankind has always wondered about, the one no one gets to come back from. Armstrong died on Saturday at 82.
I am sure that in the next few days those close to Armstrong, those who have studied him, other astronauts, members of the Apollo project, and those who saw the moon landing on live TV will publish tributes to the man who walked on the moon. I am not one of those people. I am just a guy who saw what Armstrong did with his time on this Earth–and off of it–and I’m understandably impressed.
Neil Armstrong was a man who looked up in the sky, saw the moon, and was like “Yeah, sure I’ll go to that,” and then went to that. Sure, it wasn’t that simple, it involved years of hard work and discipline, but he earned the right to become the first person to touch dirt that wasn’t Earth dirt, to leave the most famous footprint in the history of human existence, and to keep his wits together enough to utter one of civilization’s most important quotes. He had the job that like 75% of all 9 year olds (and 100% of me, I love going cool places) wish they had, and he reached the apex of it. Armstrong was the coolest astronaut, and astronaut is the coolest job, so therefore Neil Armstrong was the coolest person to ever live.
When a great person dies, and Armstrong was one of the greatest, mourning is one’s first reaction, but a person like Armstrong lived the polar opposite of a life wasted (with a life wasted being the saddest thing of all,) and the end of a long life lived well needn’t necessarily be mourned. But go for it anyway, it’s still sad.
Armstrong reminded us to shoot for the moon, literally, because if we’re all gonna die eventually, you may as well go to the moon. Find your moon, work hard, and get up there.
Don’t rest in peace, Mr. Armstrong, adventure in peace, it’s what you’re best at.
Image via SciencePhotoLibrary.