They enjoyed the view from the deck of the yacht just like the other families who were visiting the summer resort that week. Jim held his little granddaughter in his arms and they admired the moon together.
“Moon, Gampa! Moon!”
“That’s right, Danielle. It’s the Moon. Someday maybe you can live up there.”
“You’ll just confuse her, Dad.”
“Well maybe, son. But what about you, Landon?” He looked down at his eight-year-old grandson. “Would you like to live on the Moon someday?”
“I don’t know, Grandpa. People haven’t even walked on the Moon since 1972.”
“Glad to see they’re teaching that at school. That’s the year I graduated from High School.”
“C’mon, you two. It’s getting cold up here.”
Bubbe took the two-year-old in her arms and started down below decks with the little boy in tow.
“See you later, Grandpa…Dad,” the little boy called back.
After they’d gone, “Dad,” David complained, “He lives in enough of a fantasy world, especially since the divorce. Don’t encourage him.”
“Encourage him to go for a dream? If we didn’t do that, people wouldn’t accomplish anything.”
“He’s got to live in the real world, Dad.”
“In the real world, people visited the Moon several times between 1969 and 1972. When I was Landon’s age, I always thought we’d have a Moon Base by now. So did a lot of adults. Short-sightedness and the illusion that we had to choose between the War on Poverty and exploring our Solar System has kept us trapped in low Earth orbit for decades.”
“We’ve got a ton of robots on Mars and exploring the outer Solar System, Dad. If Landon wants to grow up to be an engineer, he can live out his dreams that way.”
“That’s not good enough, son. If people don’t strive for the next frontier, the next horizon, they stagnate. If we don’t reach for the stars, we’ll fall back into the dust, David.”
“You always wanted to walk on the Moon when you were a kid, didn’t you?”
“I was born too early in history, or so I thought. I figured my children would be the ones to carry humanity to the Moon and beyond. Now it looks like its my grandchildren’s heritage.”
“I can dream, can’t I son?”
On Saturday, July 4, 2043 at 0643 EST, Danielle Esther Lyle and the crew of the Heritage One spacecraft became the first human beings to step foot on the surface of Mars.
“This one’s for you, Grandpa.”
While it’s easy to dismiss the ambitions of people like Elon Musk, he’s one of the very few who are keeping the dream of a brighter future for humanity alive. The rest of us are using recent tragedies as bargaining chips to gain political points on social media.
When I was a kid and used to dream of Moon Bases and Mars Colonies, and then I did the math and figured out how old I’d be by the time the 21st century rolled around, I really did think I was born too soon. Now even my children won’t have the opportunity (if they had ever so chosen) to visit other worlds.
Maybe, maybe someday my grandchildren will finish living out the dream I had only begun when I was their age.