“Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace.”
Robert Goddard should know. The New York Times ridiculed his rocket vision, which began for him with H.G. Wells’ 1898 War of the Worlds.
He launched the first liquid-fueled rocket
90 years ago today. “Goddard died of cancer in 1945, 12 years before the Soviet Union successfully launched its Sputnik satellite. After the successful launch of NASA’s Apollo 11 spacecraft in 1969, the Times printed a retraction of their ridicule of Goddard and his vision.” WA
It’s too bad Goddard didn’t get to enjoy that retraction, but he did get to enjoy a vision that brought the next century into his
present. How to balance present enjoyment with due regard for the future, I’ve been asking? Begin by not squelching, ridiculing, or ignoring dreams and visions. Chris Stevens: “Be open to your dreams, people. Embrace that distant shore. Because our mortal journey is over all too soon.”
Visionaries live with possibility. Why do most of us not? Why are we so reluctant to entertain an unfamiliar vision, so afraid that we might become objects of ridicule? We ought to teach our children to dream, and not fear to commit an error of vision. “Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things,” but timidity diminishes us and shrinks our world. We make ourselves small by denying possibility, and then the joke’s on us. “A certain lightness of heart seems healthier,” and more likely to shoot the moon.
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