Sunday, March 20, 2011

Belated birthday thoughts on a wondrous moon

Last night, about three a.m., after the party, after the UFC PPV, after playing late-night Halo with Kyle, I went outside for the second time that evening and stared at the amazing moon. (If you didn't do the same, you missed something wonderful: full, at its closest point in the last 18 years, and so bright it lit the yard, this moon deserved your attention.) As I was staring at it in the cool spring air, I was struck by how little my teenage self's vision of my future had to do with my life today.

Though I thought otherwise at the time, though I was as certain as any young person that I understood all that lay ahead, I simply had no clue what was to come.

The realities of life with a job, friends, family, and house did not figure at all in my vision of the years in front of me. I didn't even consider that I might have children. I knew what things cost and how hard life could be--I started working to help the family when I was ten--but none of that figured in my imaginings of my future.

I was sure, for example, that I would do great things, but I haven't, not by any standard that matters to me. More to the point, though, is the fact that my definitions of greatness then were as gauzy as the lens on a Playboy photographer's camera, and since then I've changed them every time I've even wandered near one of them.

A few dreams, though, shined as brightly in my young self's thoughts as that beautiful moon and still lurk in my dreams today: to go into space, to write something of heartbreaking beauty, to somehow--as ill-defined then as now--make the world a better place.

My first reaction to these middle-of-the-night thoughts was sadness, an almost unbearable ache at my failure to realize the dreams of the young Mark. Now, though, I'm pleased that some of those dreams are still with me, as strong and vibrant and compelling as ever.

I still want to see the Earth from space.

I still dream of someday producing a work of transcendent beauty.

I still hope to make the world a better place.

Even if I never achieve any of them, I will at least have clung to them for all those years, from then to now, and that pleases me, lets me feel in usually dark corners of my heart that maybe the world hasn't entirely won.

I hope I never let go of them, I really do. I hope I never stop reaching for them.

And, I hope I never stop wanting to stand under a shining moon and consider that I could still do more.

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