Elon Musk’s first SpaceX passenger, Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the online Japanese clothing company Zozo, hopes to be flying to the moon sometime in 2023, on a yet-to-be built rocket, with tickets set at a-yet-to-be disclosed price.
But being comfortable with not knowing is a large part of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur or artist. Apropos of the latter, Maezawa doesn’t plan on making the trip alone. If all goes according to plan he’ll be orbiting the moon with a cadre of filmmakers, musicians, poets, choreographers and other artists for a project he calls, Dear Moon.
Dear Moon’s mission statement is clear:
“People are creative and have a great imagination. We all have the ability to dream dreams that have never been dreamt, to sing songs that have never been sung, to paint that which has never been seen before. I hope that this project will inspire the dreamer within each of us.”
What may seem less clear is how this voyage will inspire those of us who won’t be making the trip. Past lunar orbits and landings haven’t been much more than symbolic gestures. There weren’t any great discoveries of oil or mineral deposits —neither were gems or precious metals like gold or silver ever found. Like the six U.S. flags that were eventually planted on the moon’s surface, the expeditions themselves were merely metaphors for what is possible when dreams are slowly, painstakingly made manifest.
The very idea of possibility, which in many ways seems so removed from people’s lives these days, is what every great artist wishes to imbue their audiences with. Whether they’re large political ideas, or smaller, more intimate ones, most of us carry with us ideas for a better future. But how many of us are willing or able to manifest our ideas? How many of those latent ideas will fade into oblivion before we even sit down at our desks in the morning? By taking artists with him to orbit the moon—people for whom the manifestation of ideas is the norm— Maezawa will in effect be saying to the world: These latent dreams of yours and mine, they may seem out of reach, they may seem dreamlike and inaccessible, but see what is being accomplished on this journey. See how large the germ of a single idea can become. See how through collaboration, consensus, and diverse sets of skills, something that is indeed fantastical can be made real.
The idea of making the ephemeral manifest will no doubt be the credo of every single one of the artists he’ll be taking with him. And then, for Maezawa to further illustrate his conceit with the grand poetical metaphor of a lunar orbit gives it enormous power. The strength of Maezawa’s Dream Moon metaphor lies in the very fact of its enormity.
What we are facing now, perhaps more than ever before, is a false sense of our own limitations. Being help prisoner to our smartphones only makes our feelings of existential disempowerment more acute. As we stare down at our small screens, feeding off tiny bits of information preselected from digital data that were generated from our online choices, we become ever more distant from the largeness of mind necessary to develop ideas (or art) in the first place.
To look up at the heavens and feel humble, to feel as though we are but a speck in the vast universe, doesn’t make us feel diminished in any way. On the contrary, humility is the most propitious way to begin any creative endeavor.
After all, if we aren’t looking up we aren’t able to recognize the vastness of our own potential.