Sagan’s Parade (or, a small peek into my past)

17 01 2009

Sagan reached celebratory status after creating Cosmos, which ran on PBS in 1980.  He was, in many ways, a true hero for the passion of science and skeptical thinking.  He was also a hero to me.

What does it mean to call someone a hero?  It has to mean more than just ‘respect’ or ‘admiration’.  A hero gives you something to aspire to.  Carl Sagan touched my life for the first time when I was 9, watching the first episode of Cosmos with my father.  It sounds cliche, but I really remember that as though it was yesterday.

I didn’t know at the time how much of an impact he had made on me.  Almost subconsciously I started reading and collecting little things about him.  His parody in Bloom County, his comments in books others wrote…

And even this!

sagan-parade1

Clicking on that image will embiggen it enough to see all the finger creases.

And check out that date!

date

That’s right!  I was so enamored with him that I got this out of the newspaper when I was in high school back in 1989, and have kept it in my possession ever since!  Jealous, aren’t ya?  Bet you wish you could have a rare copy of a throw-away article he published in a circular 20 years ago!  Well it’s mine!

…And yeah, it means something to me.  I look at this old issue of Parade and wonder if I could ever have that kind of impact on someone.  I looked up to him at an age when most kids would hang pictures of sports figures or rock stars on their walls.   I had a newspaper clipping of Carl Sagan.  (Of course, I also had images of Spielberg and Malcolm X, but that’s a different post!)  What kind of man could influence a kid to *want* to be a scientist?  That’s just not cool.

The fact that I still have this says something more about me than it does him.  Why would I keep this for all these years?  I look at my bookshelf in my office and see the things that mean something to me:  my Obi-Wan action figure from the early 80s, my Interplanet Janet launcher (it’s cool!), my lead crystal Zeiss sundial I won at my first SEPA, my Bone collectible.  But behind those things are a bunch of books (it is a bookshelf, y’know!).  Filled with material I’ve collected through the years, it’s not extensive or even moderate in size, which makes each title a little more telling about me personally.  Lots of Asimov, Hawking, Einstein, and Sagan.  Guess I’ve always been a nerd at the core.

Tell ya what, I liked putting this little item of my past up for psychoanalysis by the masses.  I bet it won’t be too long and I’ll put up some more things.  Let me look through my Sagan items and see what else I have…

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One response

18 01 2009
147horsepower

Very nice Johnson. I remember when that article came out. We were both younger men in those days. Ah to be .5 and full of life again.

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