Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
There are certain days in history that people never forget. We remember everything about what we were doing when it happened. These days that live in infamy. The Attack on Pearl Harbor. The Moon Landing. The Assassination of JFK. 9/11.
30 years ago today was another one of these moments in history, frozen forever. Seven astronauts, including a school teacher, died as The Challenger Space Shuttle exploded upon liftoff from one of the most prominent space missions since Apollo went to the moon. Millions watched across the nation and gasped in horror as it became clear that something...has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
I was in the 4th grade, watching it live on the TV that was wheeled into class. Living in Florida, we usually didn't watch all of these space shuttle flights as they were pretty common. I was always more excited when the shuttles were returning home. You always knew the astronauts had come back to earth because the classic sonic boom would hit as the shuttle would come back into the atmosphere, shaking everything in it's wake...houses, the ground, trees, it was like a bomb going off right next to you. The force of the sonic boom was tremendous. Sometimes you would get 2 or 3 waves in a row. And after you checked your pants, you knew "the astronauts were back." As a star wars/trek/space nerd, I loved it. I'll never forget the trips to Cape Canaveral as a kid. Back then, it seemed most of us wanted to be an astronaut.
But for many, all that changed 30 years ago today. As we all know now, this flight was different. The Challenger launch was going to be shown to students across the country. It was a massive event. They had Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher, on board who was going to teach the very first lesson from space. My parents still have the original lesson copy that she was going to teach. I found it in deep storage a few years ago and was blown away it even existed, let alone in my parent's storage sheds.
Of course, as we all know now, that never happened. I remember seeing it explode, and I knew immediately what happened. Some of the kids were crying, but most of us were just in shock. There was a silence in the room. We all knew what just happened. But our 4th grade minds weren't fully prepared for what it all meant as we watched that V-shaped cloud form in the sky just after the explosion. I had hoped they didn't all die, even though I was sure they just did, and of course later we learned that they did. I remember our teacher simply turning the TV off and tried to explain it, tried to write it off, before just moving on. I think she let us all go to recess to "play it off". It seemed most kids were over it by the end of the day. But it was a heavy reality check for me. That even the astronauts can die. All day long, I just remember wanting to go home to watch the news to see what happened, to see if they were OK. I needed to know more. How did it happen? Why? Didn't they check everything? I needed to know everything. I needed peace of mind. I was consumed by this tragedy. Of course, we didn't have the internet then so information was hard to come by, especially for an 8 year old.
Eventually though, I found peace with it all. I remember some grown up telling me that any time we are trying to test the limits of our reality, any time we are pushing the boundaries of our curiosity, there was always the possibility of failure. And that's what happened here. Human kind doesn't always get it right. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we fail. And sometimes people are willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives, to take humanity further than it has ever gone before. From that point of view, I realized that instead of a tragedy, this was a lesson. Be brave and push yourself farther than you're comfortable with. Be willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Explore as much as possible. Never stop being curious. These great space explorers, who never got a chance to finish the mission taught me more than all the astronauts combined. We tend to learn not from triumph, but tragedy. We evolve only after we fall. The seven astronauts who died on this day were some of the bravest people who ever lived. And that we should all remember their bravery, their ultimate sacrifice, and try to embrace that type of existence every single day that we are blessed to be alive. We should all be willing to test the limits of our reality to learn as much as we possibly can. Because the only limits are the ones we impose upon ourselves.
#challenger #spaceshuttle #heroes
As anyone who might know me can tell you, I'm a pretty big fan of Frank Zappa. So it was pretty exciting to learn that a new documentary called, "Eat That Question" just blew away the crowd at Sundance Film Festival. Here's hoping this will make it to the local independent movie theater in town...or Netflix. I'm not too picky...
Sometimes going off the path on YouTube, you stumble upon jewels like this...some incredible guitar playing right here.
After a heavy, seemingly sustained period of great loss on this plane, some guiding thoughts heading into the weekend:
“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”
"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form."
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
"Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth."
"My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there."
"This Ain't Rock n Roll! This is Genocide!" -David Bowie, Diamond Dogs
I was just coming to grips with the death of Lemmy Kilmister and Scott Weiland...only to be awakened this morning by my girlfriend saying, "I've got some bad news. David Bowie has died." What a sad way to start the day.
I had no idea he was even sick. Apparently, he was battling cancer and keeping it very private. Just days after his own birthday release of his final album Black Star...and I must say, when you re-watch his last videos, he knew. Lazarus is a haunting image of Bowie on his death bed, and Black Star is remarkably profound tribute to the Starman...If you haven't seen the videos, I've got them below.
My friend Dillon Flyn wrote some of the most profound words on David Bowie I've read so far:
"The western cultural canon is a religion and pop stars are its gods. They are avatars of the glorious heights of human potential and shadowy reflections of our basest animal excesses.
Pry away the image and the persona and I'm sure you'll find that the pop star is also a living and breathing person with a family and weaknesses, but that is totally irrelevant. These men and women belong to us: the strangers who worship at the altar of their legend.
Bowie was a howitzer launched at the establishment on behalf of the sexually confused and the unapologetic and the weirdo and the weakling. We live today in a world that bears his indelible mark."
If there's one thing I've learned from David Bowie, it's this: Don't be Afraid of trying something new.
Get out of your comfortable little bubble. Be a freak. Be weird. Be unique. Be yourself. Never give one flying fuck about whether or not it will ruffle some dullard's feathers. They need to be shaken clean from time to time anyway.
And for you artistic souls out there, push yourself past every limitation you have set upon yourself. They only exist in your mind anyway. Be a magical freakish electric maniac each and every day and know that you are doing the right thing. Damn the naysayers. Always.
Here's a playlist of some of my favorites...and Bowie's final videos.
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.