Moon Landing Memories

It felt like the middle of the night. And I remember the words coming from the TV as we watched black & white static, “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Moon landing!

I was 8 years old. Not old enough to grasp the significance, but thank god old enough for it to be seared into my memory. I remember when we all gathered around the TV again 6 hours later to watch the first live transmission from the surface of the moon. I saw those weird, inflated moon boots of Neil Armstrong’s come bouncing down the ladder, and then I heard him say “that’s one small step for man…”

One Giant Leap

On 12 July 1962, President John Kennedy reiterated the vision…

We choose to go to the moon…

And we did.

By god, just over 7 years later we freaking did it.

I took it for granted because I was a child. I had no way to understand the miracle that these crazy amazing engineers had wrought. It was common as cars and radios to me.

And for the next five years of my life, my country kept blasting rockets into space and sending men to the moon and back.

Then we just… stopped.

The War That Killed The Dream

Vietnam destroyed the morale of the country, rotting us from the inside out. We were no longer willing to waste money on wars half a world away nor on worlds half a solar system away.

And so we just stopped.

We didn’t just stop shooting rockets to the moon; we stopped dreaming and stopped believing in ourselves.

I would never have imagined, let alone believed, that an entire generation of children after me would grow up without a space program.

We were unique, me and my fellow late-baby-boomers who were children during the space race. We remember a time when we knew how to put a man on the moon and bring him back again; when we knew no limits except our imaginations.

That is perhaps the most terrifying cost of endless, ceaseless war: the destruction of our children’s imaginations.

I know that some people believe it is foolish as well as naive to imagine a world without war, because we have always been at war.

But I cannot stop imagining it.

I cannot help but wonder what we might have done if all the money wasted on bombing brown people was instead wasted on blasting rockets to the stars.

What might we have done?
What dreams might we have inspired?

Imagine Something Better Than Paradise

Today, we have hundreds of thousands of young brown men who believe a medieval myth about a wrathful god named Allah and who dream of nothing more exciting than blowing themselves to bits so they can enjoy the attentions of young virgins in some imaginary paradise.

If only they could imagine a different future, one where they are alive. I wonder what imaginations, what dreams die at the hands of the suiciders?

Here’s to the impossible dreamers who put a man on the moon.

20 July 1969
Neil Armstrong
Buzz Aldrin
Michael Collins
Apollo 11

How To Brain Hack Painful Memories

Choose The Past You Prefer

Hack Brain Fix Past

He caught pneumonia and it turned into tuberculosis. He was only 6 maybe 7 years old.
(I think I saw this story in The Rise of Superman…)
His family was too poor to pay for “normal” hospital, so they put him in the charity ward.
(This was before penicillin.)
Most of the kids in his ward died. He survived.
And later in life, he remembered that time as one of the best of his life.

What?
Yes!

He viewed it as an amazing experience.  He believed it made him mentally stronger.
His interpretation of the facts was different than we would normally expect.
But there was nothing wrong with his interpretation.

What does that mean for you?

You can rewrite your own history.

Facts Plus Interpretation Equals Memory

Do you find yourself trying to run away from your past, resolve your past, understand your past?
Try something different.
Revise and rewrite your past.

The brain can do that.

Facts are bare lifeless things devoid of meaning.
They are mere data points.

This person had sex with that person.
Those people no longer live together.
This person got a low score on that test.
That person took a job in another city.

How do we make a memory?
Data plus interpretation.
We take our own personal data points and then we apply to them a veneer of meaning: our own interpretation of the data points.

I am unlovable.
My life is over.
I am too stupid to succeed.
I am no good.
I am a victim.

True, our veneer of meaning does not change the raw facts.
On the other hand, the facts do not require a particular interpretation.
We get to choose our interpretation of the raw data as it applies to us.
That means…

You can apply any interpretation to your past that you choose.

Rewrite Your Past By Hacking Your Memory

So, starting right now, you can take every painful moment, every terrible mistake, every aching memory that still throbs with hurt and you can re-imagine them and reinterpret them.

Your past does not have to be painful.
Your memories do not have to be horrible.

Your memories are a combination of raw facts plus your own interpretation of those facts.
If your interpretation of the raw facts prolongs your pain, then change your interpretation.

You cannot change the raw facts.
You can, however, change your interpretation.

We cannot escape our experience of the moment.
Once the stimulus of the moment has ended though, we can go back into our own minds and rewrite the story with our own interpretation of the data.

Why allow that past moment to darken this present moment with pain or melancholy?
Why not paint it in new shades bursting with color and meaning rather than with toxic pain and loss?

You are here now.
You are alive and breathing.

In front of you? A world of opportunity.
Behind you? Raw data plus interpretation.

I don’t know about you, but I’m choosing the interpretation I like best.