Mare Tranquillitatis

January 20, 2011
By
The moon has always been a mystery to me. It rises in the night when everything is dark. But while the world is covered in darkness, the moon itself is bright and shining. To escape the world around me, all I have to do is gaze at the moon and imagine I live there. After a while, I start to believe that being on earth is justt a vacation, a visit, and that I’ll be going home soon. That glowing mass in the sky will never cease to amaze me.

I wasn’t scared of the dark when I was a little girl. That came later. I never feared the monsters in the closet, or the ghosts under the bed. I always felt safe in darkness, as though the black somehow protected me from what the light could show clearly. You could say I feared the truth, but that’s getting a little deep for a three year old.

But I could never sleep at night. I told my parents I was scared of the dark. I lied, because I wanted them to stay with me. Sleeping was no fun, a waste of time. Every time my parents tried to put me to bed, I would whine until they entertained me by staying with me. They justt didn’t know they were entertaining.

I thought my first memory was of my mom counting sheep with me. “One red sheep jumps over the moon,” she would say, and I would respond, “Two yellow sheep jumped over the moon.” And this would go on until we were out of colors. But my memory goes back farther than that. If I reach back as far as I can, I can envision a few minutes before that moment. And I can remember thinking, in my three year old mind, “Cry harder.”


Like I said before, I wasn’t scared of the dark when I was young. My biggest fear was of being embarrassed. But eventually, darkness crept up on me, and I became terrified whenever a light went off. When I was seven, a girl was raped right up the street from me. At the time, my five year old sister and I were playing in the backyard. We didn’t know until later that at that moment, another young girl was taken from her backyard and never came back. I wasn’t supposed to know, but I heard my parents talking about it. My sister still has no idea.

The darkness became something that covered what could be lurking instead of something that hides everything. And yes, there is a difference. I justt didn’t know that difference until that first night, when I thought I was next. I called my mom into my room and justt short of begged her to stay with me. She lay down next to me and began, “One blue sheep jumped over the moon.” The comfort of this game flooded me with tranquility, and I began to relax. That’s what mothers are for.

People need fear. Fear is what makes us weary of dangerous situations, and what keeps us on guard. Everyone has felt it, the tingle in their skin, the urge to run away as fast as they can. Without fear, many people wouldn’t survive the day.
But what is it that makes people fear different things? Of course no one wants to get in a car accident, or fall off of a boat into the ocean. These fears are rational. However, some people fear things that really cannot harm them from where they are.
Summer days would usually have me outside reading a book in a lounge chair. Once in a while, I would glance up at the clear blue sky and admire the pure, cloudless sea of color. Then I realized that the color is really justt air and space, continuing up forever. I began to try to look past the blue, to look as far and as high as I could. And I thought I was going to fall off the world.

The men on the Apollo 11 spacecraft were obviously chosen for a reason. They were trained astronauts, and were sent to the moon because the Soviets and the United States were in a space race, trying to beat each other out in space technology. However, though they were trained, they were still taking a huge risk for the sake of their country. They had the willpower to overcome their fear and sacrifice their safety for the benefit of others.
The Apollo 11 spacecraft landed in the Mare Tranquillitatis, or Sea of Tranquility. No one could possibly know what the three men were thinking when they landed. Fear, excitement, and nervousness probably flooded their hearts as they entered a dark world of the unknown. Al I know is that if I was there with them, I would have been calmed by the fact that we were landing in the Sea of Tranquility. At touchdown, Neil Armstrong radioed Earth saying, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”


My parents always made it abundantly clear that every Sunday, rain or shine, we would be attending church. Compared to my sister and brother, I was often the child that complained the least about going. When I was young, I thought it was boring. However, when I got a bit older, I appreciated the boredom and actually enjoyed the escape from the real world for a while. For one hour every weekend, I was allowed to stop thinking about schoolwork, tennis, or any other stresses in my life, and focus on my own thoughts. It allowed me to take a step back from my life and examine my own feelings and ideas.

I have a theory about religion. I think that even if a group of people are united under one religion, they each have a small variation in the way they believe what they do. I look around my church and notice that some people are listening to the service attentively, while others are intently reading the bible, and others still are praying on a rosary. Each person worships in their own way. At that point, why not accept everybody? It breaks my heart to see people restrain others from their beliefs.

Many people know that Apollo 11 was the first space ship to bring men to the moon. They might even know that it landed in 1969. However, people are often unaware of the trouble before the landing. The gas tanks of Apollo 11 were being used up faster than predicted, and the astronauts did not know if they were going to make it home, or even to the moon, alive.

When Neil Armstrong spoke the words, “The Eagle has landed,” Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon because he wanted to give thanks. However, he did not reveal this small piece of information until years after because there was a lawsuit facing NASA pertaining to religious activity during space missions. An atheist woman had sued NASA when the Apollo 8 crew read from the book of Genesis, and until the dispute was resolved, astronauts were asked to refrain from religious activity for the duration of their mission.

The Apollo 11 space ship and its crew were sent to the moon because the United States was in a “space race” with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. These men made sacrifices to benefit the country and its people. How could this woman expect them to enter the unknown without putting trust in their God and thanking him for a safe trip? It’s impossible.


Sometimes the most simple, natural things can make me unbelievably happy. The word happy doesn’t seem to fully describe the feeling, but I think that’s the best word. Maybe combined with content and justt plain feeling good. I have moments where I am justt in awe of the world around us.

One of these moments happened when I was about fourteen, and has stuck with me since then. I woke up in the middle of the night, in the middle of summer. I thought I was dreaming because there was a stream of light shining across my bed, with a bluish tint to it. I pushed back my curtains to look outside, and my foggy post-sleep brain could barely register what I saw.

The world was lit up. The moon was brighter by far than I had ever seen it in my lifetime. It was as if daytime had simply changed color, and instead of the yellows, greens, and reds, everything was blue. I could see every leaf on a tree, and every blade of grass. I stared in amazement for what seemed like hours, but must have only been ten minutes.

When I woke up the next morning, I was not sure if the scene was a dream or not. I seemed so real, so vivid. Yet it also seemed unreal. But for the rest of the day, I had the image of the moon, bright as the sun, burned into my mind.





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