A Little Perspective From Space
How thinking about the universe makes big problems small.
By Nikos Psaltopoulos
My brain won’t shut up. I’m always on. Hard to shut down.
Even when I’m sleeping, I’m thinking. Worrying about family and friends. Thinking about the future in a new world disorder. Seeking relevance in a world of noise. Thinking about work, projects and todos.
Consuming thoughts overwhelm us at the best of times. The same thoughts suffocate us at the worst of times.
I know I’m not alone. This is you too.
Overthinking the ‘bad’ is a problem that left unchecked, stifles our growth and condemns us to the status quo.
Projecting helps. Seek space. Like, actual space — the stars, galaxies and entire universe.
Visualise the night sky. An openess littered with lights from the past. A space that runs so deep, it’s hard to comprehend its enormity.
When we get lost in space, we gain perspective. We realise how small we are.
How small our challenges, fears and concerns are. How irrelevant our differences are.
We realise the transient nature of everything and everyone around us.
“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world — not even our troubles,” stated the famous English comic actor, Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin [aka Charlie Chaplin].
For some, this thought may thrust us into a panic-inducing abyss of fear — for others, it’s calming and grounding.
Focus on the good this perspective can do for you.
American astronomer Carl Sagan delivered perspective to the world with his powerful words describing the images captured of earth by NASA’s Voyager 1 in 1990.
From beyond Neptune, a distance of 6 billion kms, we see our earth suspended in the darkness of space — a tiny spec in the cosmos.
“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world,” Sagan said.
“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.”
“Look at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
It took months for the images to pass through NASA’s Deep Space Network before arriving here. Truly remarkable. This tiny human made object hurtling through space capturing images of our galactic family and beaming them back to us.
The power of a functioning collective is astonishing and breathtaking.
In my most tense moments, I think of Sagan and our little blue pixel.
I think about my place in the universe. I realise how small I am. I accept it. I’m humbled. I’m happy to be here.
The ability to stop train wreck thoughts from dominating my headspace and gain this level of perspective has helped me navigate through life’s toughest moments.
Loss. Fear. Loneliness. Self-doubt.
Perspective gaining through projection has calmed me when it’s mattered most. I reduce anxiety by thinking about space and my place in it.
In the middle of a crisis, I look up. I always look up. Up, into the sky. It’s a form of meditation. Breathing in, breathing out.
I project upwards and go beyond the physical surroundings of us. I keep going until my problem thoughts become smaller and smaller and the universe dominates — it’s liberating and intoxicating.
I gain perspective, clarity and inspiration. I learn to focus on the good and be in the moment. Truly in the moment — feeling it intensely with every part of my mind and body. Breathing in, breathing out.
“We’re made of star stuff,” Sagan famously said in an episode of Cosmos, a 13 part series which aired on PBS in the early 1980s.
He explained that the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies were created over 4.5 billion years ago from previous generations of stars.
Makes sense. Just like magnets attracted to each other, our conscious connection to space of course will calm and ground us — it’s only logical.
It’s a connection we need to nurture. A connection we need to remind ourselves of.
Quantum physics at its finest.
Ultimately, at a time when the world is upside down — this is a reminder that gaining perspective requires awareness.
An awareness to be proactively aware and not reactively charged. An awareness to sleep with a view to the night sky, getting lost in space and not in troublesome thoughts.
An awareness to celebrate the miracles around us. To celebrate that we are here. We are together. We’re ok. To focus on the good and the beautiful learnings and surprises life gifts us.
As American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson revealed in a Tweet from way back.
“Curiously, light-loving green plants reject the Sun’s green light, reflecting it back at you, which is why they look green.”
The world is an amazing place and I love being here. So much more to discover.
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