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!
Clicking on that image will embiggen it enough to see all the finger creases.
And check out that 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…