There are many stories of astronauts gazing back to the earth. Looking back at our home from orbit, not seeing all the cities or human constructions, but experiencing something life changing. To peer down at our home, looking upon the natural beauty of our planet. Seeing blue oceans, green plains, deserts, or mountains, without political or nationalistic mindsets can only be a source for deep thought and philosophical musings.
I’ve read many accounts and biographies of astronauts and the space program. Many of these include instances of where an astronaut looks back at the earth, and gain a new perspective. I’ve read an account of Alan Shepard, while stepping foot on the moon, and in tears as waves of emotion washed over him. Many accounts of astronauts aboard the space station have similar emotional overtones. Almost to an individual, the feelings of looking back are deeply personal and emotional, leading these individuals to see things differently than before. They have lived a life with eyesight, but seemingly seeing things for the first time.
Unfortunately, a very large percentage of people will never be able to experience this in person. There are limited opportunities to become an astronaut, and for the most part all of us will never have an opportunity. We have plenty of photos to admire, but the effects are not quite the same. We can open up a new web link or close a book, taking our mind somewhere else. We see something that distracts us and we are back to reality and the routine.
While we cannot all catch a ride into orbit, or stand on the moon to see the earth rise above the mountains and craters, we can enhance our cosmic perspective. Simply glancing up into the night sky, and gaze upon the wonders of the cosmos is the first step. Realizing that the light we see in that very moment started its journey years ago. Sometimes we see light that is just now arriving to us after millions of years. Billions even. Every second, approximately 65 billion solar neutrinos will pass through a square centimeter of your body. The universe can be very active and infinitely interesting.
Learn our place in the solar system. Instead of having the cast to a TV or worse, a reality show, memorized, perhaps being able to know the planets. As our probes continue to visit and tour the solar system, we can now see such quality photos that astronomers in the early 20th century would have given an arm or leg to be able to see and study. In the last five hundred years, we have made such progress in our understanding of the universe. To know our place in the grand universe, leads to a cosmic perspective.
I turn on the news, or read something on CNN, and I see the broken record that is our society. Shootings and crime, people panicking because of dips in the economy, or increase bickering as we move into a presidential election year. Every week it seems to be same old thing, and as I see the growing political frame of mind, I see a regression in high level thought and wisdom.
Everything around us in this moment and time is transient and temporary. The person we want to win the game or an election will win sometimes, but lose other times. We may fight among ourselves about who we want to support, or how we want to world to work. There’s nothing wrong with this, but things need to be in a proper context. If everyone can achieve a higher level of thought and have a higher perspective, we can still work together and continue to progress into the future.
A higher perspective does not have to be about the universe or astronomy related, but we can all achieve a wiser and more intellectual perspective when we continue to learn and grow. Simply finishing school is not enough. Just having opinions about the nature of things isn’t enough. You may have finished school, and are in a job, that doesn’t mean you can stop. You may be retired, and that is great, but growth should take place every moment until the end. Every day is a step forward. Famous basketball coach, John Wooden aptly said to make every day a masterpiece. A step up into a higher perspective. To be able to see the big picture and not get bogged down with petty disputes can lead to a much better experience.
Gain your cosmic perspective in any way you can. The pursuit of wisdom and knowledge if noble and a worthy pursuit. Whether it be science, philosophy, or religion, they are all worthy. For me, I use a combination of all three. The universe is just a large canvas of artistic beauty, created by God for us to ponder and use to gain higher levels of thought, compassion, and experience.