Life Perspective from Three Vantages

First vantage.

Astronaut Suni Williams on what it’s like to look down on Earth from space:

When you’re flying in space some of the things down on Earth seem trivial. Things like politics leave your mind. […] For me, [most] news wasn’t important but people are important, so when you hear about natural disasters like hurricanes and fires, that makes you miss home and wonder how everybody’s coping. But I would also look back at the planet and think “gosh it’s a pretty little place, everybody’s going for a walk on the beach or something like that, they must be enjoying life down there.”


“Pretty little place.” Are you enjoying it?

Second Vantage.

The below image of the Earth and our moon (the starburst is our planet and the tiny dot under it, the moon), recently taken by the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn 900 million miles away, is more than a little unnerving. We are so alone, so precarious, so utterly without a net or any larger material significance to the cosmos. Our planet could simply vanish without consequence to anything beyond it.

And the image is hauntingly like the last winking light you might expect to experience just prior to death. Before you enter that inky blackness–that return to nothingness–what are you doing with what’s left of your local tincture of life?



Third vantage.

Below is a recent Hubble Deep Field image for a bit more perspective. This is how the Assistant Managing Editor of, Clara Moskowitz, described this image back in September of 2012:

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the farthest-ever view into the universe, a photo that reveals thousands of galaxies billions of light-years away.

The picture, called eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, combines 10 years of Hubble telescope views of one patch of sky. Only the accumulated light gathered over so many observation sessions can reveal such distant objects, some of which are one ten-billionth the brightness that the human eye can see.

The photo is a sequel to the original “Hubble Ultra Deep Field,” a picture the Hubble Space Telescope took in 2003 and 2004 that collected light over many hours to reveal thousands of distant galaxies in what was the deepest view of the universe so far.


How should we live in the revelation of these three vantages?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Life Perspective from Three Vantages

  1. colinhutton says:

    Our human minds are incapable of truly comprehending time-spans of thousands of years or distances of millions of miles. Let alone, billions or trillions.
    Hard, therefore, to get one’s mind around the fact that not only is the Hubble picture not a conventional two-dimensional representation of three dimensions, but that, effectively, it represents also the fourth dimension of time – and all of its dimensions on scales that are beyond our imagination.
    How should we live in the revelation of (such) photographs?
    We enjoy trying to grasp the revelation (stretching our imaginations), while accepting we can never succeed. Otherwise, I suppose, we go into denial and fall back on fairy tales.
    In short – a nice picture from Hubble!

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Hadn’t thought of the fact that Hubble is visually revealing in two dimensions a representation of four, not three, dimensions (including time). Good catch.

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