WHY: PERSPECTIVE CHANGES EVERYTHING
Something stressful will happen at work this week.
You will back into a colleague's truck, or you will let a customer down, or a builder will place unreasonable expectations on you, or your cash flow will dry up, or you will end up double or triple booked or short of work for the week, or you will paint the feature colour on the wrong wall, or a homeowner will bounce a cheque on you, or...a thousand other frustrating things will happen to you this week.
None of it much matters...
26 years ago today this simple and profound image was taken.
It is called Pale Blue Dot. It is a photo of earth taken from the Voyager satellite from 6 billion kilometers away. That tiny bright spec in the middle of the brown shaft of light is earth in the context of deep space.
Take a moment to look at it and ponder its meaning to your work life.
It helps me to keep challenges in perspective, do my best, but accept that ultimately all my work will be covered over within 10 years, in the landfill within 40 years, and completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Since the work I do is relatively futile beyond providing for my family, how much more futile is any stress and frustration surrounding the work. It is incidental trivial stress, of no benefit or use whatsoever.
Carl Sagan titled his 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space after the photograph. In it, he expresses his thoughts on a deeper meaning of the image:
"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."
— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997 reprint, pp. xv–xvi
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