In Myths to live by, Joseph Campbell celebrates one of the most thrilling moments of humanity, that is, walking on the moon.
Campbell writes, “That fabulous color photograph of our good earth rising as a glorious planet above a silent landscape is something not to forget.”
And he invites readers to the that feeling of awe by borrowing two lines from Giuseppe Ungaretti’s poetry:
Che fai tu, Terra, in ciel?
Dimmi, che fai, Silenzios Terra?
What are you doing, Earth, in heaven?
Tell me, what are you doing, Silent Earth?
I have never been outside of Earth’s atmosphere, but a tiny portion of humanity had been there, and they describe this feeling of awe, induced by observing Earth in the space, as The Overview Effect: a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface (Wikipedia).
In the video, David Loy, philosopher, talks about self transcendence and realizatino of interconnectedness in such moment:
“To have that experience of awe is, at least for the moment, to let go of yourself, to transcend the sense of separation. So it’s not just that they were experiencing something other than them, but they were at some very deep level integrating, realizing their interconnectedness with that beautiful blue-green ball.”
And even watching the video gives you a sobering feeling of self-transcendence and feeling of interconnectedness. It really puts things into perspective, and makes you wonder about your life as a human on this tiny yet ‘beautiful blue-green ball’ that weaves wondrous web of life. Listening to the astronauts speaking about their overview effect makes me so jealous that I even forget I am jealous, and I say, “Wow, I am happy that these people had such experience in their life, and can tell us about it. This is amazing.”
Maybe, vicariously, I am having the overview effect as well.
Recently, I met few alien friends. They told me that, few decades ago, while on their journey around Universes, they accidentally landed on our moon, saw Earth, and thus paid a visit, and stayed until now.
They made a painting to celebrate Earth Day and their time on Earth so far, and they are writing thank-you notes to their friends on Earth and back at home.
I myself have never been outside of Earth’s atmosphere, but I hope I will be there before I pass away. Until then, I am going to celebrate my Earth Day writing Thank-You letters to my friends, family, and coworkers, although it can sometimes feel very awkward like below.
Happy Earth Day to y’all 🙂