What Looking at the Moon Has Taught Me About Life

I’d consider the moon to be the pinnacle of exploration for mankind. If I remember, I’ll come back to this site years down the road and change that to Mars. But for now, it’s the moon. Those 200,000 miles turn Mount Everest into a mere sledding hill, which I guess makes my trek up Mount Washington the equivalent of stepping over a bump in the road.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13,” when Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, puts his thumb over the moon, then takes it away, then puts it back. I find myself doing that at times when the moon shines at night; it’s hard not to think about the very, very small handful of people who have stood there and looked back at the earth. At times, however, more things wander through my mind than just the people who have stood there.

Think about this for a second: people have stood there. Don’t think about the people who have, just think about the fact that they have. How impossible does that seem? But it happened. And if mankind can put a man on the moon, is there anything we aren’t capable of? What is it that is stopping you from doing what it is that you want to do? Is it more challenging than getting to the moon? Doubtful. Odds are it’s a lack of desire or will. We don’t put the time in that we can, not because we don’t have the time, but because we won’t make time.

Last year, I read Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air, where he recounts the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest, which was the subject of the 2015 film Everest. One of the more memorable parts of the book, in my opinion, was when Mr. Krakauer discussed the late Rob Hall’s ideology that climbing Everest was not about physical ability—that anyone could do it if they had the will and the determination. Does that not apply to everyday life, as well? I’ll ask the same thing I did earlier: what’s stopping you?

You are.

I’ll bring my focus back to the moon now. What has looking at the face in the sky taught me about life? It’s fairly simple. If someone has stood on the moon, anything is possible. Certainly one of the men who stood there had dreamt of it as a child, and against practically every odd, they did. And if they can do that, why can’t I achieve what I want to? Why can’t any of us achieve what we want to? The truth is: we can. Odds are just numbers meant to give or destroy hope. Make your own odds. But keep in mind, there’s going to be work, and there’s going to be a lot of it. That’s what weeds out the people who will do anything to achieve their dreams from the people who just kind of want it. Neil Armstrong wasn’t just plopped on top of the moon, nor was Edmund Hillary dropped to the top of Everest by some insane act of God, and Tom Brady didn’t become one of, if not the greatest (I had to please any New England readers I have) quarterback of all time by wishing. That will to be great is an incredible thing. If someone truly wants to be great, and I mean truly, because there’s a big difference between saying you want something and actually wanting something with every inch of your body, then they will get it, because they will work non-stop until they get it.

The human will is an incredible thing. There is nothing out there that can break the human will, and it amazes me on a daily basis. Watch someone who wants something as badly as they want to breathe, even if you just watch them for a few minutes, and watch how unbreakable they are.

When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to meet the first man on the moon, and the most legendary explorer to have ever walked this planet: Neil Armstrong.

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The funny thing is, when I was little I wanted to be an astronaut. I always said that I would be the first man on Mars. Space was, day in and day out, my life. Ask my parents, they’ll verify that. I said in a previous post that I was still fairly new in terms of getting into the outdoors, and that’s 100% true. But now that I think about it, that desire to explore has always been there. Fifteen years ago I wanted to go to space; today I want to climb mountains. Fifteen years ago I looked up at the moon and said I would do incredible things, and today I do the same.

And so I continue to go outside, look up, and put my left thumb over the moon. It puts life in perspective, but it also serves as a reminder that if a man could stand on the moon, then there is nothing I can’t do. Even on the most frustrating of days, it’s a friendly reminder to keep pushing forward. The highs are high, the lows are lower. Accomplishment feels good, but failure feels like the end, even though it’s not. You keep pushing forward, even when it your brain and your body say to stop, because your heart keeps giving you that little bit of hope that, no matter how small it is, will always be worth fighting for. Because the human will to fight, to work, and to achieve is something that can never be broken.

 

In memory of Aunt Debbie. I love you and I miss you. Rest easy.

–DG

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