Contextualizing | Us

Contextualizing | Us

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A few days ago, OSIRIS-REx, a spacecraft traveling to the asteroid Bennu, took this image of the earth from 106,000 miles away. There we all are, with our hopes and fears, with our challenges and our opportunities, dangling in the vastness of space. And here I was thinking about consumerism and complacency and current events and my place in all of it. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

I find this kind of periodic sense of perspective and scale hugely important to living well here on earth. Without taking time to space out (!!) and contemplate the cosmos every now and then, we run the risk of mistakingly believing that the comings and goings of our lives are as consequential as we can believe them to be. And then perhaps more importantly, we get a chance to ponder space...vastness...limitlessness. Maybe it is through exploring our boundaries that we can gradually realize, actually, that we don't have any boundaries at all.  

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NEIL ARMSTRONG

 The earth and the moon, captured on September 18, 1977 by NASA Voyager 1 at a distance of 7.25 million miles away from earth. Image  via  the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.   

The earth and the moon, captured on September 18, 1977 by NASA Voyager 1 at a distance of 7.25 million miles away from earth. Image via the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

 

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth.

I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." 

 

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BILL WATTERSON

 The Milky Way in Stars and Dust. Credit & Copyright: Serge Brunier  via  NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

The Milky Way in Stars and Dust. Credit & Copyright: Serge Brunier via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night,

I'll bet they'd live a lot differently. ”

 

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EDGAR D. MITCHELL

 The earth as seen from the moon, pictured in December 1968 from the Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. Image credit:  NASA .

The earth as seen from the moon, pictured in December 1968 from the Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. Image credit: NASA.

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.

From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.'”

 

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ALAN WATTS

 The Heart and Soul nebulas. Credit & Copyright: David Lindemann  via  NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

The Heart and Soul nebulas. Credit & Copyright: David Lindemann via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing

in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.” 

 

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CARL SAGAN

 Moon and Earth from Chang'e 5-T1. Credit: Chinese National Space Administration, Xinhuanet  via  NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Moon and Earth from Chang'e 5-T1. Credit: Chinese National Space Administration, Xinhuanet via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

"Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam...Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves." 

 

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DEEPAK CHOPRA

 An image of a dying star captured by the NASA Hubble telescope. Credit:NASA, ESA, and K. Noll (STScI)  via  NASA. 

An image of a dying star captured by the NASA Hubble telescope. Credit:NASA, ESA, and K. Noll (STScI) via NASA. 

"you are the universe

manifesting through a human nervous system

and becoming self-aware."

 

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Feature image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

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