This is one of the most prolific things I have read in a long time. It is an excerpt from Carl Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Sagan reflects on the appearance of the Earth the above photograph taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 at that he himself requested.
"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Look again at 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.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
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.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
I wrote this poem on a yoga retreat I was on in April 2008. I was coming out of a very painful and difficult part of my life at that time and things were finally starting to look up. My superstitious mother believes that blue birds are a symbol of good luck. I was inspired to write this poem because I began seeing blue birds all around me during that time.
Blue Birds! Good Luck! I want to be like that blue bird. My dreams here are about not being caugt. The unattainable Susy. I want to be like those two blue birds I saw, so beautiful to look at, but the moment you attempt to catch it, it disappears into the beauty of the wilderness.
Everyone wants a piece of it, to touch it, to taste it, smell it...to experience it, but it is fleeting like life itself. The blue bird is ephemeral. It is a living manifestation or perhaps a metaphor for our lives on this Earth. Does the blue bird understand the power of its own beauty and appeal? I wonder. Maybe I am more like the blue bird than I think I am. Maybe we are both unaware of the mesmerizing spell we cast over others, never wanting to be caught but always desiring to be longed for and sought after. Once the blue bird is caught, it is all over.
Friday, 01 October 2010