Friday, May 24, 2013

Mote of Dust

 Brian has a special man crush on astronomer Carl Sagan (so much so that we are going to name our daughter Sagan if and when we have one). There is a photograph of Earth taken by the Voyager1 from billions of miles away. Sagan wrote in his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 



"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. 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.

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."
Brian loves these reflections so much that he even wants to get part of the text tattooed on his body. before he left for his internship I had planned this gift for him. It took me a month to find the perfect landscape in a thrift store. And the rest-- was the most irritating project I have ever done. And far from perfect.

 When it was done I couldn't wait to show him (having originally planned on it being a birthday gift when he came home. So we got on skype and I ruined the surprise. He was stunned. The view of him through skype was pixlated and dark but I saw his eyes get wide and he put his hand over his mouth and I was so happy over his reaction I started crying.


When he gets back from this internship he's not ever allowed to leave the state without me again. I'm adding it to the marriage vows.