20141010

Earth in True Perspective

The small green square in the photo to the left, a brief, single snapshot in time—what appears to be only a cold, empty void of absolute darkness, with nary a single star to be seen by the naked eye—in fact contains within the dark confines of its hazy boundaries the luminous wonders of over 10,000 beaming galaxies, each shining with the light of a trillion suns.

Back here at home, only a few short footsteps from your door, countless species of sea life and coral live out their lives: lush cliffs and caves, flora and fauna, and schools of fish, from tiny as needles, to larger than a great dane―millions of intertwined species, an interplay of flourishing ecosystems, locked together in singular symbiosis. An octopus drifts silently by, observing its surroundings in the stillness of soft, quiet reflection, as the full spectrum of the rainbow―liquid lines of chameleon color, glimmer just beneath its membranous skin.

With no moon, and no light above save for distant twinkles of starlight and the light of worlds light years away, two distant lightning storms on the East and West horizons bring intense contrast to the endless voids both above and below. As far as the eyes can see, no land interrupts this unbroken line of darkness. Complete blackness blankets the waters beneath, with the exception of phosphorescent plankton, which flash and glimmer like sparks in the night as we glide silently through the waters, or when softly stirred by a cool caress from the back of your hand. The dividing line between jet black sea and infinite sky is wholly absent, evoking a sense of leisurely drift through those deep, distant space nebulae—a synaesthetic, psychedelic experience, akin to sensory deprivation.

The luminous arms of the Milky Way, usually no more than a faint trace across the sky when enveloped in the chaos and cacophony of our contemporary pachinko parlor-laced urban climes, still a dim spark, even, from deep in the meadows of a distant countryside—shine bright as Times Square overhead. An experience beyond words, evocative of the distinctive hallmarks called to mind through the end sequences of Contact, or Kubrick's 2001.

Across the universe, the distant void yields to powerful beams of light borne from nuclear fusion sourced deep in the hearts of a trillion stars, each shining radiant warmth and light down upon alien worlds. Consider, for the briefest of moments: the unimaginably vast number of living worlds that circle those other suns, in this tiny distant window of space and time alone. Each and every one holds, 'tween the span of its horizons, boundless wonders and volumes of mysteries—countless miracles of dazzling complexity that mirror our own richly-populated, endlessly intricate, fractal, yet familiar home world.

Imagine how many others just like you are out there right now―this very moment―looking up to us in curiosity and contemplation, through the dizzying, stellar symphony of unfamiliar constellations dancing their way across strange, alien nighttime skies, calling back to us from the unfathomable void, crossing through the vast expanse across more than thirteen billion light years of space and time.

                           – Christopher Altman




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