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A Matter of Perspective

In late December 1968, what many consider to be the most significant photograph taken in the twentieth century was snapped. Not by a professional photographer, nor by a news photojournalist, it was taken by an amateur photographer using a borrowed camera. Some might say it is not much more that a well-composed landscape, only this one taken from about 240,000 miles away. The photographer was William Anders. His then full-time occupation, astronaut. The subject, Earth as seen from orbit around the moon, now known as “Earthrise.”

 

We are reminded of Bill Anders and his picture taking voyage because he died very recently. He was killed while piloting a small airplane off the Washington coast. On June 7, he crashed into the Puget Sound, his body pulled from it by the U. S. Coast Guard later that day. He was 90 years old.

 

Astronaut Anders and his fellow star voyagers Frank Borman and James Lovell were the first people to see the Earth from so far away that our entire planet could be seen. Their mission was the first to leave Earth orbit and circle around the moon, 238,000 miles away.

 

They travelled nearly 580,000 total miles on the mission to take man to the moon and back and scout possible landing sites for future Apollo missions. Anders said of the flight, ‘“We came all this way to explore the Moon and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”

 

Poet Archibald MacLeish wrote of the photo, “To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats.”

 

Everything looks better if you stand back and take in the whole picture. From the vastness of space, we are small and beautiful, forever silently moving through space. Close up, we see ourselves differently. We try to make ourselves look big and important in an eternal cacophony of ugliness, stuck intent on doing only what we want.

 

There is a cartoon that pops up often on the social sites. It may be two people, a youngster and an adult, a boy and his dog, some combination of two. One says “You have to take it all in while you can. You only live once.” The other counters with, “You only die once. You live every day.” Another exercise in perspective.

 

We get to exercise our perspective every day, often nearly every hour. Almost everything we see or do, say or hear, hope or wish for, can be taken a variety of ways. Slow, careful, thoughtful deliberation is not a guarantee of making the right decision or one pleasing more people than causing conflict. It is a guarantee that any decision will be one made of logic and thoughtfulness rather than of haste and emotion.

 

You don’t need to go the moon and back to see what Earth can be like. Nor to see how we the people of Earth should be living. Small, beautiful, and eternally silent. What else can we say.



Earthrise

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2 commentaires


Perspective is so necessary! I love what you said of Bill Anders--that the most significant thing they discovered on this journey in space was the Earth where we live. Every day. Everything looks better from a distance--you don't see flaws and cracks and imperfections from a distance. But even seeing ourselves up close--beautifully imperfect, perfectly flawed--can help us see we're not as great as we perceive but we're amazing together. Small, beautiful, eternally silent----maybe if all of us stopped putting our two bits out there and were a little quieter, a little more thoughtful, we'd recognize the beauty in each of us. Thanks, y'all, for your stellar insights. You always make me think.

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En réponse à

Oh Dayle, yes, you got it with that fabulous summary, “we’re not as great as we perceive but we are amazing together.” Just like the Earth is so beautiful from afar but so fractured up close. That is a stellar insight! 

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