Get Your Head Around This

They say the original Blue Marble photograph really showed humanity what a singular and precious world we have.

NASA Blue Marble

For the first time ever mankind was able to see our home in it’s entirety. To see just how isolated we really are, how unique our planet is, especially within the vast emptiness of space. And to understand just how important it is for us to stop all this fighting and destruction and work together for a better future for all.

Well now we have another unique perspective of Earth to ponder; Earth, from another planet!

Earth From Mars
 
both images reproduced under license courtesy of Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre

Seen from Mars our home planet is just a tiny dot, no hint of the complexity or confusion that lay upon it’s surface. There are more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand, and many more planets than that (ie: the ‘star’ at the centre of our solar system is the Sun), yet ours is still the only one that we have found anything close to life on. The current Mars rover Curiosity is looking for any hint that there might once have been water on Mars. If they can prove that they will be pretty certain life could once have existed there. But what will that mean to most of us? In the great scheme of things, not a lot.

Water on Mars is a long way from little green men, and really that’s what most people are interested in, the idea of meeting other intelligent species. But let’s say, against all the odds, that we found them or that they found us. Do we really think they’d be impressed by how we treat one another?

Countless astronauts have said upon seeing Earth from space that it’s hard to believe such a thing as war could exist on such a beautiful and peaceful looking place. And many of them have even dedicated their life to humanitarian missions upon their return home, so moved and changed were they by their experiences. Sometimes all we need to make sense of the world is a slight change of perspective.

As Bill Hicks once said, “It’s a round world last time I looked.” We need to stop looking at our differences and start concentrating on our similarities, both inner and outer. It’s the only way to be if we want to get where we’re going (and be ready for when the sun goes super nova in about 5 billion years!).

Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow…

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

It’s so easy to think about tomorrow, and forget about today. To look to the future for satisfaction, and ignore the here and now. So many things we strive for are based on delayed gratification, and the promise of what is to come, but if what we desire is always in the future, how will we ever truly be happy?

They say ‘Tomorrow never comes’. True, from a linguistic/philosophical point of view, though always a saying that annoys me somehow with it’s clever smugness. I used to have a saying, ‘Never put of ’til tomorrow what you can get away with never doing’, but that was just me trying to be funny. Besides, if it doesn’t need doing, why is it on your To Do List in the first place?

ohmmm...

Tomorrow I head out to the Dhamma Dipa Centre near Hereford for my 10 day introduction to Vipassana meditation course. I’ll be honest, I’m a little apprehensive, as 10 days is a long time, especially with all the rules they impose on your staying there.

But also I’m looking forward to a chance to practice properly for the first time. No distractions, just you and the cushion. What I’m less enthusiastic about is dealing with my leg while I’m there. Thanks to a litany of injuries my right leg hurts in oh so many different positions, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to sit for hours at a time without a great deal of pain. I just did a Tai Chi weekend and by the end of it I was really in a lot of pain.

But hopefully it’ll calm down over the next 10 days. I have exercises to do and I won’t be doing any work so nothing should aggravate it. And there are a number of positions you can meditate in, so I’m sure I’ll find something I can do that’ll work for me.

the big buddha

For my last bit of visual entertainment for a while I just finished watching a great documentary about the Apollo missions called In The Shadow Of The Moon. Not only is it fascinating to watch, but it is inspiring to hear the revelations each astronaut went through in seeing the Earth from so far away. Some found their spirituality (very specifically saying not religion, but spirituality), some came to realise how unimportant the many things we find to complain about day to day really are, some came to understand the interconnectedness of each and every thing in the Universe, but not one of them came away thinking that this fractious, warring, polluting system we’ve set in motion is the way to be.

And it made me think too. Neil Armstrong was 38 when he went on his mission into space. I’m 38, and tomorrow I embark on my mission to become a space cadet. How alike we truly are, lol. 🙂 Ok, I’m just messing. but it is interesting to see what others before you have done by the same age you are.

However, that being said, you can’t get caught up in measuring yourself by the standards of others of course. Each of us has their own path to follow, and we must find our own ways of measuring our success (otherwise we’ll always be unsuccessful, and ultimately always unhappy). But more importantly we have to enjoy the victories of today, for if we always look to the future for validation we will never truly feel we have achieved anything.

day 21 - peace

Ok, that’s enough philosiphising for now. See you in 2 weeks when I’ll report on my 10 days of meditative seclusion, and hopefully I’ll finally be able to make some decisions about my upcoming sabbatical, and progress forward in my quest for a Brand New Life.