I’m going to hear Alan Bean talk.
Alan Bean is one of the 12 men who have walked on the moon. Only nine of them are still alive.
I was looking on-line for an exhibition which I’d heard mentioned on the radio and couldn’t find it; instead I found that Alan Bean is talking to our local Astronomical Society in a school hall in a medium sized local town. I rang up and – yes – they still had tickets.
I am going to be in the same room as a man who has walked on the moon.
The moon landings are part of who I am and how I think – my mother made me watch them on television and then took me outside and pointed to the sky. “Look” she said, “That is where they are – so very far away.” She fell silent for a second. “I hope they are all right up there”, she added quietly. Lovell, Swigert and Haise of course, very nearly weren’t all right.
Bean walked on the moon for two days in 1969. He was 37 at the time. He was deeply affected by the experience and has spent many of the intervening 38 years creating paintings in which he strives to convey both something of the experience and meaning of being in space. The original paintings include grains of moon dust from his mission badges and are textured using his rock hammer.
When I heard I’d got a ticket to go and see him, I had trouble breathing. I have found it hard to concentrate all afternoon with the giddy excitement of it all.
The moon-walkers were two in a billion, and there are only nine of them left. One day fairly soon there will be one, and then there will be none.
They may be the only members our species to walk on another world; they may be the only creatures in the history of our planet to do so.
To be in the same room as one is a privilege beyond compare.