Standing outside the other night staring at the moon, I felt a powerful yearning to go visit it.
With a gravitational force one-sixth as strong as the earth’s, the moon must be an ideal place for dancing, or for track and field events. A 60-pound child would weigh 10 pounds up there; a 120-pound woman, a mere 20; guys like me, a buoyant 30 (or maybe 32).
Aside from cavorting around, the moon would be an excellent place for processing firewood or moving appliances or heavy pieces of furniture. Imagine how manageable things would be up there! A spine-straining sack of cement would shrink to the weight of a bowling ball; a 50-pound bag of birdseed would be no heavier than a gallon of milk!
Builders, think how easy it would be to toss sheets of plywood onto the deck or hoist bundles of shingles up on the roof! Landscapers could hardly wait to unload double rolls of sod off the truck. Forklift operators would zoom around storage yards looking for something heavy enough to challenge their machines. Piano movers would giggle.
There would, of course, be drawbacks to living the lunar lifestyle. Chiropractors would be out of work. Sumo wrestlers would have to gain weight. Skinny fashion models would need to buy lead shoes so they wouldn’t drift up into space. No doubt the advertising wizards would turn to emphasizing heavy: Don’t Be An Airbelly-Drink Coors Ponderous. Improve Your Health-Eat More Carbohydrates.
But the advantages would predominate, at least for a while.
Clumsy folks would gain a light touch. Depressives would grow light-hearted. Shot ducks would glide gracefully down into the water. Elephants would tiptoe about, secretly proud of their newfound agility.
In time, though, I suppose we’d adjust to the feather-light conditions, and begin to complain all over again. Just as astronauts have trouble downing a glass of liquid in weightless conditions, we’d no doubt find aspects of lunar liberation irksome. As the old saying warns, beware what you wish for in case your wishes come true.
Wonderful as the prospect of lunar living seemed to be while standing in the darkness gazing up at the distant orb, I realized upon reflection that life up there would probably be no big improvement. Cement manufacturers would simply make much bigger bags; roof shingle bundles would grow six-fold; insurance underwriters would scale back the ideal-weight tables, and we’d be right back where we started from.
Maybe the limits we have here on earth aren’t so bad. Maybe it’s better that elephants move slowly and harbor no dreams of ballet. Maybe it’s best to accept things as they are and learn to use the limits as helpful guides.
But it’s still fun to stare into space and wonder.
Collections of Craig Nagel’s columns are available at CraigNagelBooks.com.