Is Anyone Out There? (2006)

When I was assigned as Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 12, I wondered if paying close attention as we traveled out into the heavens might result in some special insight, some better understanding about who we are and why we are here. With this in mind, I scheduled times to be still and alert; times to listen and be aware and receptive. I even wrote them into my copy of our official flight plan, and I followed the plan.

On a November day in 1969, standing in the vastness of the moon's dusty landscape, Pete and I had that whole world to ourselves. More than once I glanced up to see the Earth, a shiny blue marble of incomparable beauty in the sky above us. It brought to mind the questions humans have asked through the centuries - are we all alone in the cosmos? Will we one day land on a far planet and be greeted by others like us, or perhaps by beings beyond our ability to imagine? I turned to put the Earth and the Sun behind me, and looked up again, out to infinity. The sky was as black and shiny as the patent leather shoes I wore to Sunday School as a boy. Inside my head, I asked the questions of the ages in my own words. "Is anyone out there? Is there an all-knowing, all-powerful being out there who is in charge of everything in this universe, and all of us, too?"

For me, at least, there was no answer. No explanation, no flash of enlightenment. Some may say I didn't listen in the best way, and they might be right.

I'm 74 years old now and feel grateful every day for the life I've had and the experiences I've enjoyed. I look at the Moon now and it's hard to believe that half a lifetime ago, I was there. I still can't say if anyone else is out there, but I do know that there is a very real spiritual power within our hearts. Maybe that is where the answers for each of us have been waiting all along.


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