The atmospheric pressure on the Moon is three times ten to the minus twelfth millibars. Its atmosphere is principally helium, neon, hydrogen, and argon, with trace amounts of methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide. Its crust is a mix of oxygen, silicon, aluminum, calcium, and iron. Its mean temperature is two hundred and fifty Kelvin, or twenty three degrees below zero in Celsius.
It is a barren dusty rock, cold and dead.
We have not always known these things. In the second century of the common era, Lucian of Samosata wrote of the empire of the moon. In the seventeenth century, Johannes Kepler wrote of Duracotus’ journey there. In 1836, Richard Locke, writing for the New York Sun, spoke of the bat-men, the moon-maidens, and the bison of the moon.
There were flowers there, in those days, upon that distant rock. There were moon-flowers, white and green, spreading their leaves amidst the cratered dust.
These days, there are not.
The bitter cold would kill them. The atmosphere would stifle them. There is no water, and the soil, it is dead.
It would be insane and terrible, the life of a moon-flower. That is why we have ceased, as a culture, to imagine it. It would be a struggle unimaginable, a war against the endless bitter void waged without resources or support, simply to grow, and to be, and to open for a time its petals against the sky. Simply to live. Simply to bloom.
And it would be wondrous each time one paused
In the struggle against the void
And took a single day, a single hour, a single moment from its life
To give warmth to another;
To help them bloom;
To awaken a greatness not that flower’s own.
It is hard to be everything that we should be. It is hard to be. It is hard to bloom. It is hard to grow. To live, we can do that; to stagger forward, we can do that; but to achieve everything that is within ourselves to be is as hard as a flower’s life upon the moon.
And people are stronger together, and they are better together, and love is in the game theory of life more or less an optimal thing; but let us take a moment, nevertheless, to think on the wonder of this choice that some from their love will make:
To pause, now and again, in their days and their weeks, in the endless struggle against the void, to help another bloom.
Dedicated to Kevin Maginn and Chrysoula Tzavelas on the occasion of their wedding. May it be a pillar of the world.