I don't usually subscribe to the whole “In my day, kids never . . .” bit. In the first place, kids always did; in the second, it's still my day!
However, today I want to play the “it's different for my generation” card. It's not a face card, to be sure, but I think it's still a counter.
My generation is the only one that feels the way we do about Space.
Humans walked on the moon – WALKED on the MOON – for the first time when we were still young enough to accept miracles as a matter of course but old enough to recognize from the adults' reactions that this was a big damn deal. For our parents, space travel was something improbable that they accomplished; for our kids it's something that has always been there.
For us, it's a meteoric twin sibling. It's like . . . like having Inva Mula as your sister. You may sing a pretty good “Happy Birthday” but even if you practice sixteen hours a day for the rest of your life you'll never hold a candle to that voice – and you don't care. Jealousy is meaningless in the face of something so inherently cool. You're just proud to be associated with it, in however menial a capacity.
Yes, most (but not all!) space stuff is the product of rarefied intelligences dedicating lifetimes to study and work. Some (but not all!) of the people who go into space are smarter than I will ever be, stronger than I will ever be and better educated than I will ever be able to afford to be. Still – they're people. We're people. PEOPLE did that.
Since in addition to my other geekeries I'm a huge science geek, I tried my best to instill this sense of reverent excitement in my kids. No, their science books didn't say “some unimaginable day in the future Man may leave the Earth's atmosphere,” but I don't want them ever to be suave about things like this. How boring, how lacking in enthusiasm is your life, that LIVE FOOTAGE FROM MARS coming INTO YOUR LIVING ROOM isn't something that you'll drop everything to see?
In our day – which, I reiterate, is now – there are marvels and wonders everywhere you turn. I have touched the Rosetta Stone. I've seen the green flash. I've held a human brain and heard Eddie Van Halen play live and planted a seed and haven't even made a dent in the bucket list. I never will, because the things to see and do and try and just stand stock-still in wonderment of – there's a never-ending supply of them.
Hey, Kids. Guess what?
You can see PHOTOGRAPHS of MERCURY now.
People did that!