This past weekend we lost not just an American icon and hero, but someone who will always be both of those things for the entire human race: Neil Armstrong.
Did you know that NASA chose Armstrong to be the first astronaut from Apollo 11 to set foot on the moon in part because he was viewed as having a modest ego? Proof of Armstrong’s humbleness is that the first written biography he authorized wasn’t published until 2005 - over three decades after his moon landing - and that he turned down all autograph requests since 1994, because he was uncomfortable with how much his signature was selling for. Here’s a guy at the center of maybe the most significant event in human history, and he does all he can not to cash in.
If athletes were more like Neil Armstrong, then…well, let’s just say I’m glad they’re not.
It was weird timing that Armstrong died this weekend, because he came up last Friday in a conversation I had with my buddy and colleague Steve Costello.
Steve had just gone on a cruise around Manhattan, and he came back pretty inspired. He’s been a New Yorker his whole life, but Steve said that seeing NYC in a way we rarely see it - from the middle of the East and Hudson Rivers, from 360 degrees around – was like seeing it for the first time (pics in post above). The sheer size of the skyscrapers, the interconnectivity of the bridges and highways, the beauty of the sun setting behind the west side of the island, shining through the streets between the buildings.
“Then there’s the sites, like the Statue of Liberty, and Ground Zero,” Steve said. “We always say, ‘We’ll get to them when we get to them. But we never actually go see them.’”
Then one of us mentioned Neil Armstrong; how amazing it must have been to have the fresh Manhattan eyes Steve just had – but for the entire planet Earth. How he must have gained such an original perspective of the world, one that no other man had ever experienced.
(Like that old tale about the cowboys sitting around the campfire at night, and how they see only the fire, but the Indians in the dark behind them can see both, and how the owls in the trees can see all three…how the further away you get, the better you can see.)
The bottom line is that we get so caught up in our own daily mishegoss, that we lose sight of the bigger picture, how always there’s so much more than meets the eye. How beautiful our world is and always will be, how it’s all connected in the most amazing ways.
How small all of us – and our problems – really are.
When you feel overwhelmed by life, step back. Take a breath. Take a break. Try to see it all with those fresh eyes.
Buy my new book, You Gotta Have Balls, here.
I worked in a kitchen when I was growing up, 80-90 hours a week, at Camp Sussex. There’s a lot of opportunities like this. Is that work nothing?