From now on, we live in a world where man has walked on the moon. And it’s not a miracle, we just decided to go.
— Jim Lovell
There is a scene in the movie Apollo 13 in which astronaut Jim Lovell is hosting a dinner party at his house. At some point in the evening he escapes the hubbub of his guests and takes a seat in a lawn chair in the back yard. When someone comes out to join him he utters the phrase above.
The moon landings were the culmination of a gargantuan series of tasks. Thousands of people invested hundreds of thousands of hours coordinating and delivering on thousands of tasks. It wasn’t a miracle that we landed on the moon. We just set our minds to it and decided to go.
Theme of the week: Just decide to go.
I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success. My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next. Enjoyment while performing was rare—enjoyment would have been an indulgent loss of focus that comedy cannot afford. After the shows, however, I experienced long hours of elation or misery depending on how the show went, because doing comedy alone onstage is the ego’s last stand.
— Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Biography
Although I read Steve Martin’s excellent biography a few years ago I was reminded recently of these great thoughts in the opening paragraph. I would like to believe that I am charting a similar life course. It feels like I am in the refining years right now.