Passing Time

Remember last week when I told you about the smartest kid in my eighth grade class? That really smart, but emotionally really dumb kid?

Well, there was another kid, a more pensive, I think just as smart guy, who never, ever seemed to get mad, or agitated, or even emotional. He was calm and he was quiet.

I suspect most didn't even know he was there. But, being the nerd I was — even back then — I did. And we were friends. Perhaps because we both shared a nerdy fixation: the space program.

To show you "how" nerdy, we both wrote NASA for pictures and information on the Gemini and Apollo missions.

I was thinking of him upon hearing about this New Horizons mission that's due to take off from Cape Canaveral this week — just not today! It's a special space probe with a nine-year mission that will take it to Pluto, our furthest planet.

Nine years.

Imagine waiting nine years for something.

President Bush will long be retired and maybe the president after him.

How will Iraq work out? Or Iran? Or these deficits? Or these markets?

What about our kids? Will they turn out OK?

The stuff of which we obsess for the moment, are but flickering images of an increasingly distant planet for a quiet, piano-sized capsule that doesn't hear, or recall, or fret. It just moves and moves to a destination of which we know little and a part of our solar system about which we know even less.

I wonder if my long lost friend wishes he was on this probe, separating him from the very commotion he seemed to ignore as a kid, but focused on the things a lot of us forgot as kids. Focused on things like life, the stars, who we are, how small we are and maybe, how we got to be who we are.

Important things. Timeless things. Everything.

The kind of stuff that makes the stuff of which we fuss over today, seem like, nothing.

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