A reminder to live IN AWE!
Listening to the radio a couple weeks ago, I came across an interview discussing the 25 recordings the US Library of Congress had selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry this year. Among this list were some familiar sounds like Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville,” Mariah Carey’s omnipresent “All I Want for Christmas is You,” John Lennon’s “Imagine” and the theme song for the Super Mario Brothers Game- which immediately took me back to many Saturday mornings trying to save Princess Peach and collect as many gold coins as possible.
But there was one recording that I was especially excited to hear had been selected. It’s the recording of “Pale Blue Dot” by Carl Sagan. You see, the photo of the Pale Blue Dot hangs in my office. And I believe it is the single most important photograph taken in the history of the world.
While every other picture in my office was taken a few feet away from the subject, the Pale Blue Dot was photographed from a bit farther back. In fact, the subject of this picture was captured from a distance of 4 billion miles.
The picture is grainy. It primarily shows the immensity of space.
The vast darkness is pierced by innumerable small specks of light, revealing stars in the distance. Four beams of light from our sun cut through the center of the picture.
And hovering in one of those four rays, if you squint your eyes just right and look closely enough, you’ll see a faint, barely perceptible pale blue dot.
That almost indiscernible orb is our planet. Even with the earth’s mighty circumference of some 25,000 miles, even with more than 7 billion humans living on it, in this picture it’s little more than a speck of dust. Carl Sagan, the great astronomer, succinctly sums up why this picture is so magnificently important, and it’s this recording that the Library of Congress has chosen to preserve:
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.
(It’s something to read the words, but it’s even more powerful to hear Carl share them. Check out the recording here!)
This image illustrates that we are one small part of something truly awe-inspiring. That the world we inhabit is a small part of an eternal, unending, and expanding cosmic dance.
At first glance, you might think this suggests we are nothing more than minor players, unremarkable creatures, unimportant beings.
That’s not how I see it, though. Not at all.
In fact, the awe of knowing our place in the world can do something powerful: It allows us to fully engage in the dance and give it our all.
It leads us to act differently, make better choices, and look for ways to benefit the world, instead of just ourselves.
So today, let’s recognize our place in this vast universe. Let’s awaken the limitless possibilities in our lives. And let’s live IN AWE of the world around us.
Today is your day. Live Inspired.
I originally shared my love for The Pale Blue Dot in my bestselling book IN AWE. Next week, we celebrate the third anniversary of IN AWE’s publication. In honor of this milestone, every purchase of IN AWE from our website between now and May 5, 2023 will come with a special note from John at no additional charge. Order today!