kestrel

kestrel, walking
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2020-07-12 18:45:47 (UTC)

Prompt 084: Moon Landing

84. You have traded places with Neil Armstrong for his 1969 trip to the moon! Describe your first steps on the moon's surface. Would you change Armstrong's historic line to make it your own? Why or why not?
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"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

That's pretty good. Even if one ignores the political significance of the moment - USSR vs. USA - there's no denying that science and technology received a big boost in the consciousness of most of the developed world at that moment. It likely also imprinted on the psyche of everyone who noticed the event of a moonwalk the idea that, for good or ill, humans can do almost anything. Again if taken out of the political context, it represents an immense step forward for human ingenuity and technological progress.

I wonder what kind of courage and resolve I would have were I an astronaut. Most of those folks were test pilots, not just scientists. To launch into space in a vehicle powered by liquid fuel, that has to carry its own oxygen and rebreathers (the interesting problem of the malfunctioning air filter on that same flight comes to mind), that has to jettison most of its weight into space after leaving the Earth's atmosphere... Oh yeah, and then it has to come back, intact, after its crew walks and drives around on the surface of the Moon... To have been the first people to do that-- well, it's nothing short of tremendous.

Not saying that I have ever needed to face that kind of pressure or lethal potential in literally anything in my life, but I can appreciate the mindset of the astronaut. You rely for much of the experience on your training, your muscle memory, your confidence in the team. The rest is where your instinct, your guts - your "intestinal fortitude" - comes in. Your courage and resolve. You delegate the small stuff to your training, so that when it hits the fan you can address the stressful situations head-on, or at least with a clearer head. Panic doesn't enter the equation: it becomes a matter only of doing your best with what you have. What's left? Critical thinking, perception, reflexes, guts, courage, resolve.

At that point, I think life or death is immaterial. You kept at it and gave your best shot at it. If "success" wasn't there, well, the blame can't be placed squarely on your shoulders alone.

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Tonight, I may have a conversation with the lady I'd been dating. Yesterday we kind let things end abruptly, and I think both of us had things we wanted to say but didn't. Some time away has allowed me to critically consider a number of things about the budding relationship that I think I'll have to bring into the conversation. Some of these things are a problem with me, other things are a problem with her.
- She doesn't want to show physical affection unless she's drinking.
- I only started drinking again because I was hanging out with her. I don't like feeling horrible the morning after and feeling tired most of the following day. I'd prefer to spend my money on pastries and/or diner food, in terms of empty calories.
- I am not comfortable with sex this early in a relationship (we've been dating for five weeks-ish?). Meanwhile, she thinks I'm not sexually attracted to her. When I asked her what it would take for her to be convinced otherwise, her answer was, "I don't know."
- Most of her socialization and social circle revolves around drinking (this isn't something to confront her about, it's just an observation, but I'm clearly not down with this routine).
- There are a few superficial differences, such as her dependence on television, her lack of interest in board games. I don't like watching teevee - although there are definitely some interesting shows out there - and personally I'd like to be able to sit down with someone and bust out some of the games on my shelf so we can enjoy our time together intellectually.

I don't think of her as a bad person, at all. She's just different. I was rolling with the differences, trying to feel out how comfortable I could be broadening my comfort zone a bit. But frankly as we've become deeper in a relationship over time, it's clear that these are dimensions into which I'm not interested in expanding. Further, it seems like she's not going to thrive unless there's someone who can roll with her in this, and it would be unfair to ask her to bend for me - away from alcohol, for instance.

We'll see what can be salvaged if we do this phone call.


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