I've been thinking . . . April 12, 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yury Gagarin became the first person in space. On that historic day, he said, "I see Earth. It's so beautiful!"
This incredible photo of Earthrise, taken by Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968, has literally changed the way man sees Earth. I never think of Earth without picturing brilliant blue oceans, swirling white clouds, whole continents with no lines marking borders or territory; the perfect sphere floating and fragile in a universe whose limits know no end.
I was born in 1977, many years after those first images of Earth were distributed by Time magazine. What did people imagine, when they thought of Earth as a whole, before Yury's first glimpses?
When I saw Toy Story in the theater in 1995, I sat with my mouth open and my eyes wide through the entire show. The animation was so new and complex--I remember wondering which parts were actual footage and which were the animated parts. There was no way it could possibly be all animated! I tried to explain this to my children recently and they didn't get it. They see Pixar as a different kind of animation, but, to me, it was astounding and new.
The first time I used e-mail was in 1994. The dial-up modem was - s - l - o - w - and unreliable. My then-boyfriend was at school at the Air Force Academy and was under strict rules about calling home. I would listen to the unfamiliar sound of: number tones-beep-beep-dah-ring-static-beep rhythm and hope there would be a new message written in green letters on the black screen. Jump forward 15 years. We just talked with my parents, 550 miles away, in real time, on the web cam. My children have never heard the dial-up tones, they have never known life without the Internet.
Sometime in the 1980's, my Great-grandmother, who was born in 1910, was helping my mom put away groceries. She held one of the plastic grocery bags in her old, worn hands and looked at it. She fingered it gently then said, "What my mother would have done to have something like this and we just throw them away." What would a woman at the turn of the century have done with plastic? Protected their feet from the cold wet that seeped into their boots; protected bread and cheese and gravy from the ravages of air; cut them up and crocheted them into rugs; disposed of garbage with a knot at the top to prevent the foul odors from permeating their homes; and a million other uses that we just take for granted.
I agree with Yury, this is a beautiful Earth. What a blessing that I have never wondered what it looks like. I am looking forward to my life. When I am an old lady looking back, what will I say, "I remember when . . ." about?
What will you?