Rethinking Sputnik

“Sometimes all you need is a second chance because time wasn’t ready for the first one.”


October 4, 1957, one week before my sixth birthday. Russia launched a Satellite called Sputnik.

Soon I was standing with a group of neighbors gathered to watch a small blinking object move across the sky. You could barely see it. It looked so tiny but it was creating some big news. Russia had beat the United States into outer space. And it appeared our country was afraid the ability to launch nuclear weapons at us was next on their list.

Our country went to work and soon caught up with Russia’s space technology. What followed was a contest to see who could build the most bombs, missiles, and rockets. Both teams now have more than enough to destroy planet earth many times over. So far, even though we have come close a time or two, no one has pulled the trigger.

My first impression about the folks living in Russia was one of fear. They were out to get me. Now, I’m rethinking Sputnik. Most of those people probably want the same things I do, peace and love. And according to these Russian proverbs they feel the same way I do about a lot of other things too.   

“A kind word is like a Spring day.”

When I’m running on the trail near my home, I make it a point to say, “Good morning” to everyone I meet. And if I happen to see those same folks when I loop around to head home I say, “Have a good day.” I don’t always get the response I’m hoping for but at least I put some good vibes in air. And that brings us to our second Russian proverb.

“A spoken word is not a sparrow. Once it flies out, you can’t catch it.”

Life on this planet didn’t come with any guarantee of how long we’ll be here. I don’t mean to bring down the party but it’s always good to remember your next words could be your last words. Knowing that should make it a whole lot easier to say nice things.

“Don’t blame the mirror for your ugly face.”

One of my morning rituals is standing in front of the bathroom mirror and putting on a red clown nose. Next, I spread a smile across my face and say to the reflection, “Today I’m going to make someone glad they met me.” I put the clown nose back in my robe but I wear the smile as much as I can during the day. And I pretend I’m Johnny Apple seed and sprinkle kind words wherever I go.

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I did some research and discovered they have a marathon race each September in Moscow, the capital of Russia. Nearly thirty thousand runners take part from seventy countries. This sounds like a lot more fun than dropping bombs on each other. What do you say we sign up.