"Now, let's get off, forget the camera." These seven words were the last ever spoken when humankind walked on the moon. Insignificant at the time, the Apollo 17 astronauts left those seven words floating into space in December 1972.
I wonder where those words are now almost 46 years later? If those sound waves had eyes I wonder what they'd have seen and experienced floating through space, watching the universe go by? I wonder what they would have felt so far away from home? And most importantly I wonder if those sound waves somehow might have changed the space around them just by being there?
Now if these ideas seem a bit abstract and difficult to imagine we need turn no further than Laurie Brown to help us ponder this cosmic ripple in space and time.
Last night in River Market, New Westminster BC, a good friend and I experienced a live recording of a new show called Pondercast, which is the latest project from Laurie Brown. After 10 years of hosting The Signal on CBC Radio2, Laurie has launched into the podcast universe with Pondercast and is hitting stages across Canada with her Pondercast partner; musician and maestro composer to the stars Joshua Van Tassel.
Pondercast took their live audience on a journey into the not so distant future. A future where some of earths citizens have moved to the moon. The world has become a toxic dystopian place, the air is almost unbreathable, and so those with enough money, imagination, and guts have decided its time to put on their astronaut suits and make the moon home.
We've probably all briefly thought what it might feel like to visit the moon but have we ever really dug in to the idea, the feelings and emotions of it all? What it would be to experience it? What emotions life on the moon would stir? To know that the planet that was once our home is too polluted and dangerous to live on? And despite it all, looking up from our prime real estate with lunar mountain and crater views the pale blue dot would be ever present, beckoning us to return. Inevitably once our base camp and eventual colony was setup, we'd long for it, home - the earth - and we'd want to go back. We'd wonder why we left in the first place and how we could have let it all go so wrong, when we had so much going for us. We'd wish our sons or daughters never bought us that prime piece of moon real estate after all. And we'd wonder, in the years to pass living on the moon, how much we had changed in the process.
This was the beautiful journey Pondercast took us on last night through the musical backdrop from Joshua Van Tassel and the spoke words of Laurie Brown. To a place where we step outside our busy lives, grab on to an idea and instead of jumping to the next, we stay there for a while. Not many things in our instagram, snapchat and twitter worlds do that very thing. In fact it's clear we've already moved far away from holding on to any one idea long enough to understand its singular solitary force or significance.
And this is the secret in the power of words. That if words you hear come with powerful enough messages and you hold to them for just long enough that they will change you. They will make an impression. And they might, like ripples in time, land somewhere with unforeseen consequences. They will affect people. They will change someones life. But only if we take the time to stop, to hold on to an idea and unravel its layers to the eventual hidden secret inside.
Last night I had the opportunity to have a brief chat with Laurie and to thank her for what she does. And that she does it all from a place that she loves. I thanked her as I'm sure many of her fans of the Signal on CBC Radio2 have for just doing what she does. Her response was a warm and gracious, "Well thank you, but I don't really know what I've done!"
And that in itself if the beauty of words, of ideas, and of how her new show Pondercast continues to carry the gauntlet from where the Signal left off. Like a message in a bottle, sent out to space, her words are left for an unknown traveler to find, to unlock and unravel and to decide what to do next. Perhaps those words help us understand ourselves a bit better and what it is to be human. Perhaps the ideas foster new ones we want to share with others. And perhaps they validate the choices we make in our lives to live a more purposeful and inspired existence. And so the story continues. From one place to another. Changing time and space and people in between.
As it turns out, for those last seven words spoken on the moon, their journey has been of great distance and of even greater significance. Sound travels at 332 metres per second which means those sound waves have travelled over 481 million km's. If those sound waves like to take the scenic roads of space, it places them almost perfectly into the orbit of Mars - the next nearest planet humankind will land on and make home soon. I wonder what that will feel like?
Personally I've never been to the Moon, or Mars for that matter, but I now have a much better idea of what I'd miss if I left - this incredible place, earth, that we call home. And amazing people we share it with.
Someone who I'm sure has much more insight on the matter is Canadian Astronaut Chris Hatfield who wrote a book called "An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth." It's part of my collection and definitely a recommended read. Check it out.
Until next time, don't forget to subscribe to my blog.
And most importantly - keep on pondering.