Stunning Earth

William Blake wrote

To see the world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour

His words are mesmerising, and I’ve quite often found myself enraptured by the tiny, the micro; the macro lens on my camera, but today I found myself breathless with the huge, the massive and the incomprehensible.

If you have 6 minutes to spare in your life, spend them on this – I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Don’t forget to wave to yourself on the way past.

A lot of people I know have gotten really excited about seeing the International Space Station as it transects the night skies. They’ve posted updates on facebook about where and when it can be seen, and all this time, the ISS was looking back. I never even knew – I always thought it was looking outwards.

The stars make us contemplate and wonder (and, if we’re gullible enough, think they hold our destiny) and have been a source of awe from the first time a human raised his (or her) head to look at them and think “Wow!”

I don’t wish to undermine the stars for they truly have their place amongst the utterly awesome, but lets all just take a moment to stop looking out and be a little bit introspective (but at a planetary level).

How often have you thought about being an inhabitant of the third planet from our sun? How often have you considered that our solar system is one of many occupying a tiny space on the arm of the Milky Way galaxy? When did you last think about what goes on above the level of the sky? Do you know what happens in the troposphere? If you’ve thunk any of this more than twice in the last year, you’re leagues ahead of me.

Allow me to leave you with a little from the ever-wonderful Lewis Thomas

Item. I have been trying to think of the earth as a kind of organism, but it is no go. I cannot think of it this way. It is too big, too complex, with too many working parts lacking visible connections. The other night, driving through a hilly, wooded part of southern New England, I wondered about this. If not like an organism, what is it like, what is it most like? Then, satisfactorily for that moment, it came to me: it is most like a single cell.

This quote, and the rest of Lives of a Cell is available to download free as a pdf (search it on Google). I thoroughly recommend it.

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6 thoughts on “Stunning Earth

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  3. That sounds amazing. I've seen the Milky Way really clearly once, in Ireland, with no street lights. It was just incredible.

    I couldn't tell either from the video where I am, but I presume I'm there somewhere. Still awesome though.

    You're lucky to have seen the ISS – I'm not sure I've ever seen it!

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  4. What an incredible video! It was moving so fast, I couldn't ever tell exactly where they were. I loved the flashes of lightening. And the northern lights. So pretty.
    We watched the space station fly right over our house last summer. It was bizarre to watch it and think, “There are people living in that little dot right now.”
    Living in the country, with no lights anywhere nearby, I often ponder what lies beyond our little part of the universe. When the Milky Way cuts across the sky directly above our driveway. Millions of stars dot the blackness. One can't help but wonder.

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