Thursday, May 18, 2023


By Tim Rohr

Okay - to take a break from all this usual heavy JW stuff, I want to share something a bit lighter and sort of personal.

I believe it was Carl Rogers who once said "what is most personal is most universal." 

If you have to pause on that, it basically means that, at root, at the level of our deepest personal being, we really are all the same, i.e. we hurt the same, etc. 

So the following is not really "personal." It is really universal - in a way. 

And it was framed for us in a magnificent human event from which we all can draw hope. 

Always hope. 

The following is a short reflection posted on my Facebook page in 2019. Thanks for reading. 


After more than a year, I have come to the Epilogue of the book Apollo 13 (Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kruger). It’s the book that inspired the movie. And like they say, the book is always better than the movie. 

But as riveting and amazing as the real story of how those men got back to Earth is - and for all the great lessons learned in that story (e.g. don’t lose your cool) - the investigation into how Apollo 13 came to be the only Apollo “failure,” as the Epilogue catalogs, provides the most fascinating lessons. 

Like most disasters, it wasn’t one thing, but a perfect storm of many small oversights and errors, going back to whoever forgot to remove a single bolt in 1965. 

The Apollo program was, and remains still, the pinnacle of human technical achievement. Think about it. Putting a man on the moon and bringing him back to Earth with but a tiny fraction of the computer power that is in the simplest of today’s smart phones. 

And to accomplish that feat, something many NASA experts say cannot even be repeated today - 50 years later, there were layers and layers of checks and double checks and triple checks and test after test after test. Yet, an extremely tiny thing escaped unnoticed. 

 And BANG!

For those of us dealing with those kinds of BANGS in our fragile lives...we, like those three men, CAN STILL GET HOME! 

Don’t panic. Keep breathing. And trust your ground crew. 

My favorite line from the book is by Jim Lovell, who, reflecting on a question from a reporter in a post-mission press conference who asked if Lovell had panicked. Lovell replied: 

“We could have bounced off the walls for ten minutes and we would have been in the same position ten minutes later.” 

Keep breathing. And as Flight Director Gene Kranz told Mission Control when he realized what had happened: “Pay attention to your data, people. Don’t make things worse by guessing.” 


Big hearts to those guys. Thank you for helping me find my way home. 

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