Lie me to the moon: often it’s the untruths that set you free


Lie me to the moon: often it’s the untruths that set you free

When my father handed me what he said was a moon rock, he unleashed many wonders in my mind

When I was very young my father showed me a rock. Well, it looked like a rock, and indeed it was a rock, but it wasn’t just a rock. It was, he said, a moon rock. A moon rock! Yes, a moon rock. This rock, this irregular block of stripey gneiss that we could hold in our hands and turn and scrutinise, this grey-black hunk of silent hardness flecked with small bright shiny bits and dark matt bits and weighing just about as much as you’d expect a rock of that size to weigh, once upon a time would have weighed almost nothing at all in our clunky earth units as it circled our planet and shone at night like a beaten silver coin. All the people who have ever lived and who had eyes with which to see might have looked up and seen this very rock in the boundless black night. 

It was almost too much for me to hold in my head, the romance, the magic of this object. I kept it in my room and showed it to my pals, and explained how my father had been friends with one of the Nasa astronauts who had given it to him as a souvenir and a lucky keepsake. I let them touch it, but only with their fingertips. I told them how it glowed at night in the darkened room, and glowed brightest when the moon was full. 

It has become a modern commandment that you shouldn’t lie to your kids, but this is hogwash. Everyone lies and everyone is lied to, and often for the most splendid of reasons, and I have never for a moment been anything but grateful to my dad for transforming a plain old backyard rock into a sacred relic, for sprinkling my life with moondust, for doing what dads should do and simply telling me a story. Without stories, our lives are just arid collections of facts, tired old rocks without atmosphere. Life with him was never that. ..

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