49 – Look Up

NASA
Five Moons and Saturn

I was working in a library when I saw the first images from the Cassini Project. I don’t remember if I’d read about it before, or if it was one of those times my phone was stalking my brain. I do remember wasting a ton of time I should have been tending to the library fawning over Cassini images of Saturn and her moons instead.

At night I would go to the beach, look up at the stars and know that something of humanity was out there giving me a close up. How cool is that?

The first thing that came to mind was a scene in my favorite show ever, Sports Night. The stupid joy of being alive at a particular moment. The wonder. But my favorite moment happens in the next scene when Dana (talking about theater) says…

It was really quite something. The music began, and I just started to cry. I don’t know where that came from. It was like church. I didn’t know we could do that. Did you know we could do that?

That was the question that came to mind the first time I saw images of Saturn come back from Cassini. It’s the question that crosses my mind every time I read or think about Voyager 1 & 2 out there still transmitting from the farthest places we’ve ever sent anything. It was the first question to cross my mind when I read all about the James Webb Space Telescope.

I am alive at a time when we are sending a machine into space that is going to look almost all the way back to the beginning of time.

Did you know we could do that?

I mean, we’re these monkeys on this rock and here we are flinging this thing into space that has to work precisely or it’s all for naught.

And the fucking thing works!  DID YOU KNOW WE COULD DO THAT?

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this timeline in which I live. I love that it included Cassini and the Shuttle Program and JWST. I mean,just a few days ago they beep-booped Voyager again and it beep-booped back. It wasn’t even supposed to be working anymore and here it is saying hi from the furthest reaches of anyplace we have ever sent anything.

We did that.

And I love that I am alive at this particular time seeing this particular scientific magic.

And I hurt because I think of how much more we could have done by now if we’d parked so much of the worst of what makes us human and just gotten on with things, you know?

What if we hadn’t spent so much of our existence fighting over imaginary gods and killing those with whom we disagree? What if entire societies hadn’t had their libraries burned to the ground, their cultures beaten out of them by the more powerful? What if today we stopped fighting over invisible lines and over resources we could just share? What if instead of all of that we’d listened to our learned men and women? How far along could we have been? How far could we go?

Did you know we could do that?

Yeah. That stuff I knew we could do because we’ve been doing it since we climbed down out of the trees.

I can’t wait to see what we do next.

©2024 Rudy Martinez