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The Field Updated Ed
The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe
Light in the Darkness
Perhaps what happened to Ed Mitchell was due to the lack of gravity, or maybe to the fact that all his senses had been disoriented. He had been on his way home, which at the moment was approximately 250,000 miles away, somewhere on the surface of the clouded azure and white crescent appearing intermittently through the triangular window of the command module of the Apollo 14.
Two days before, he had become the sixth man to land on the moon. The trip had been a triumph: the first lunar landing to carry out scientific investigations. The 94 pounds of rock and soil samples in the hold attested to that. Although he and his commander, Alan Shepard, hadn't reached the summit of the 750-foot-high ancient Cone Crater, the rest of the items on the meticulous schedule taped to their wrists, detailing virtually every minute of their two-day journey, had been methodically ticked off.
What they hadn't fully accounted for was the effect of this uninhabited world, low in gravity, devoid of the diluting effect of atmosphere, on the senses. Without signposts such as trees or telephone wires, or indeed anything other than the Antares, the gold insect-like lunar module, on the full sweep of the dust-grey landscape, all perceptions of space, scale, distance or depth were horribly distorted; Ed had been shocked to discover that any points of navigation which had been carefully noted on high-resolution photographs were at least double the distance expected. It was as though he and Alan had shrunk during space travel and what from home had appeared tobe tiny humps and ridges on the moon's surface had suddenly swollen to heights of six feet or more. And yet if they felt diminished in size, they were also lighter than ever. He'd experienced an odd lightness of being, from the weak gravitational pull, and despite the weight and bulk of his ungainly spacesuit, felt buoyed at every step.
There had also been the distorting effect of the sun, pure and unadulterated in this airless world. In the blinding sunlight, even in the relatively cool morning, before the highs that might reach 270° F, craters, landmarks, soil and the earth -- even the sky itself -- all stood out in absolute clarity. For a mind accustomed to the soft filter of atmosphere, the sharp shadows, the changeable colors of the slate-grey soil all conspired to play tricks on the eye. Unknowingly he and Alan had been only 61 feet from Cone Crater's edge, about 10 seconds away, when they turned back, convinced that they wouldn't reach it in time -- a failure that would bitterly disappoint Ed, who'd longed to stare into that 1100-foot diameter hole in the midst of the lunar uplands. Their eyes didn't know how to interpret this hyperstate of vision. Nothing lived, but also nothing was hidden from view, and everything lacked subtlety. Every sight overwhelmed the eye with brilliant contrasts and shadows. He was seeing, in a sense, more clearly and less clearly than he ever had.
During the relentless activity of their schedule, there had been little time for reflection or wonder, or for any thoughts of a larger purpose to the trip. They had gone farther in the universe than any man before them, and yet, weighed down by the knowledge that they were costing the American taxpayers $200,000 a minute, they felt compelled to keep their eyes on the clock, ticking off the details of what Houston had planned in their packed schedule. Only after the lunar module had reconnected with the command module and begun the two-day journey back to earth could Ed pull off his spacesuit, now filthy with lunar soil, sit back in his long johns and try to put his frustration and his jumble of thoughts into some sort of order.
The Kittyhawk was slowly rotating, like a chicken on a spit, in order to balance the thermal effect on each side of the spacecraft; and in its slow revolution, earth was intermittently framed through the window as a tiny crescent in an all-engulfing night of stars. From this perspective, as the earth traded places in and out of view with the rest of the solar system, sky didn't exist only above the astronauts, as we ordinarily view it, but as an all-encompassing entity that cradled the earth from all sides.
It was then, while staring out of the window, that Ed experienced the strangest feeling he would ever have: a feeling of connectedness, as if all the planets and all the people of all time were attached by some invisible web. He could hardly breathe from the majesty of the moment. Although he continued to turn knobs and press buttons, he felt distanced from his body, as though someone else were doing the navigating.
There seemed to be an enormous force field here, connecting all people, their intentions and thoughts, and every animate and inanimate form of matter for all time. Anything he did or thought would influence the rest of the cosmos, and every occurrence in the cosmos would have a similar effect on him. Time was just an artificial construct. Everything he'd been taught about the universe and the separateness of people and things felt wrong. There were no accidents or individual intentions. The natural intelligence that had gone on for billions of years, that had forged the very molecules of his being, was also responsible for his own present journey. This wasn't something he was simply comprehending in his mind, but an overwhelmingly visceral feeling, as though he were physically extending out of the window to the very furthest reaches of the cosmos.
He hadn't seen the face of God. It didn't feel like a standard religious experience so much as a blinding epiphany of meaning -- what the Eastern religions often term an 'ecstasy of unity'. It was as though in a single instant Ed Mitchell had discovered and felt The Force. He stole a glance at Alan and Stu Roosa ... The Field Updated Ed
The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe
. Copyright © by Lynne McTaggart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>