On the 14th of February 1990, just as the Voyager 1 probe was leaving the Solar System, some 3.7 billion miles away from Earth, Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn it around to snap a photograph of our home.
The resulting photograph showed the Earth as a pale blue dot, less than a pixel in size. A speck of dust in a seemingly infinite universe.
The Importance of Knowing How Small We Are
In today’s culture there’s this prevalent cliche: you’re a beautiful, unique snowflake.
Maybe you are. But you’re still one of many billions such snowflakes. You’re still fragile, incredibly so.
We go through life often thinking that we’re at the center of existence, yet this photograph captured from the outskirts of our own solar system shows us for what we truly are: a bit of rust and stardust dancing within the infinite darkness of space.
This is not a troublesome thought, quite the contrary. This realization should allow us to contemplate on the importance of humility and kindness, should make us realize that all we have, all we have ever known or loved, all those who lived before us, all of that is contained by this pale blue dot.
We are floating in space on a speck of stardust. Go far enough, everything becomes irrelevant.
Distance yourself from a problem, and you see it for what it is. You realize that perspective is everything.
The Power of Perspective
We suffer because we believe we’re at the center of the universe. This is our default setting. Self-centered. Selfish. Impatient. Insecure.
There’s beauty in recognizing just how insignificant we are, there’s power in shifting our perspective.
This is what it’s all about. Life. Love. Success. Personal Development. About being able to shift perspectives.
If one mindset does not empower you, change it. If your short term goals don’t inspire you, think of your long-term goals. If your beliefs are limiting, reframe them to your advantage.
If you are being consumed by petty arguments and frustrations, let them go by recognizing your own insignificance. Laugh about it, laugh about yourself.
Is this it? Everything we know, everything we did? A pale blue dot? I’m afraid it is.
We’re all a set of dates and a dash. Each and every single one of us. The world was not big enough for Alexander the Great, yet a coffin fit him just fine.
We Are a Part of the Universe Trying to Understand Itself
There’s one more lesson we can learn from this photograph. Even though we’re just a bit of rust and stardust, we’re that bit of the universe trying to understand itself.
We captured this image because we are capable of reason, because we are endowed with the gifts of greatness.
We captured this image because we wanted to, and there seems to be no real limit as to what we can do, because we can understand.
If you want to reach outside your comfort zone, to venture into the center of your fears, all you have to do is think. You have to think and ponder and understand. That’s all.
That’s all we are. That’s all we ever were.
The universe might be vast, uncertain, and impossible to fully understand, yet we’re a part of it, not separate from it.
We often like to believe there’s this invisible wall between us and the rest of the world. We live inside our minds, and we lose focus, we lose control.
To be able to properly function in this world one must become aware that all the pale dots connect somehow.
This is an inexorable truth of life: we’re a bunch of atoms and stories dancing around an ever-expanding infinity of such atoms.
You can either choose for this thought to comfort or disturb you. The choice is yours.