Thoughts by Richard Bleil
She must have been (have you noticed how many of my posts start this way?) about seven or eight (TWIST!) I guess. I’m so bad at guessing the age of children as I’ve never had the experience of watching them grow up, so maybe she was a little bit older. Her brother was still too young to have a conversation with, but she was very intelligent and delightful. I had worked with her mother in the police department (who was treated just as poorly as they treated me, or perhaps even more so) where we met. Her mom and dad are just delightful, and very important friends to me, and would invite me to join them for Thanksgiving dinner when I lived closer. Being the poor friend that I was, I would graciously accept their hospitality and food, but I don’t think I ever actually contributed anything to the dinner. This is just poor manners, and I regret it, but I did have a lot of fun.
This year, the moon was beautiful. I sat with their daughter and decided to strike up a conversation by asking her, “do you know who owns the moon?” The intention was to head off into a conversation about how the moon really belongs to all of us, even her, and how it is there for us all to enjoy. But her immediate response to my question was, “do YOU own it?”
Why, yes, yes I do own the moon. Somehow, I never quite made the point that I had originally intended because she was just so charming and the conversation was so much fun when she truly believed that I, myself, held the deed to the entire moon. Children can be so much fun, and are so charming that how can you do anything but let them lead the conversation? They’re such little thieves, stealing hearts and all.
This isn’t the point of the post, but I was relatively recently surprised to discover that the United States were not the only ones to walk on the moon. I guess I never thought about it because when Americans reached the moon it was such a huge deal and point of national pride, and broadcast worldwide as the first time that humans reached the moon. As it turns out, Russians sent cosmonauts to the moon, first walking on the moon in 1974. More recently, in 2019, China sent a human to the moon. I remember the news about the plans to send a Chinese astronaut to the moon, but don’t recall any news story about them actually making it. Of course, the original Apollo moon mission was actually a military mission as I’ve written on previously, but it’s still interesting to know that so many others have walked on the moon with such little media coverage.
Today, though, this conversation has inspired thoughts about our world and how we perceive it. Just as she thought I owned the moon, she might have been right insofar as the reality that it really belongs to me as much as it belongs to her, her brother, her parents or any of us. Isn’t the world the same, though? While we parcel out portions of land so we can build and grow on it, the world, as a whole, really belongs to all of us. What’s more, the shape it takes is very much dependent on how we choose to see it.
It’s intriguing to think that there are so many different worlds on this one simple planet. Science fiction authors often like to hypothesize a “multi-verse”, a near infinite number of universes each one unique in that every combination of possibilities possible occurred in each one, kind of an extension of quantum theory that says everything that is possible exists. I’m talking about something different, about one universe, one planet but that exists in the eyes of individuals, each earth as unique as there are people.
This thought actually gives us, all of us, incredible power. We cannot change facts; the “alternative fact” movement seems to have, thankfully, died. But we can change how we interpret facts, and no, I’m not talking about “this scientist says but that one…” kind of thing. For example, most of us view Hitler as a monster (myself included). I’ve seen what he did, and the cost in human suffering and it is just wrong. Unfortunately, some of us view him as more of a hero. But how we view the world has a distinct impact on our own personal psyche.
I’m thrilled that Hitler failed in his quest. I see the world as a brighter and happier place because of it. Those who to this day support him see the world as darker and dismal. We can view this universally. I was disappointed when Hillary lost the election, but knew that Trump was temporary, with a presidency lasting no more than eight years (it only lasted four). As angry as some of the things he did made me, knowing he was temporary helped me to get through it with at least some semblance of sanity intact.
Ultimately, the world is big enough that we can find examples to support viewing the world as good and bright as we choose to see it, and plenty of examples to see it as dark and dismal if that is our desire. And, no, it’s not healthy or appropriate to simply ignore things that happen, but rather, our choice is how to view these things in relation to the much bigger picture of the world as a whole. Do we have our problems? Yes, without a doubt, but as the Tao te Ching reminds us, it’s ever changing.