Much of the time we’re intertwined in our daily events—family, food, work, maybe some exercise and recreation. And then there are the bills to pay, the car to fix, errands to run; on and on we go. Add to that the political and military unrest in the world, the economy, nuclear meltdowns and climate change. It’s a lot to deal with.
January is a good time to step out of your immediate world and take in a bigger picture. Remind yourself that all life here on Earth is dependent on the Sun. The Sun has burned for 4.5 billion years and will do so for another 5.5 billion. As it expands and heats up the Sun will eventually engulf the Earth but not for another 1.1 billion years or so. That’s a million years 1,100 times! We humans have only been on Earth for 2 million years.
Eons of time remain for us to work out our conflicts and way of life. Take a deep breath. Recall that it has taken life a million years, 3,500 times (or around 3.5 billion years) to develop into what we see today. We’re part of a much larger cosmic adventure than we are normally aware. We can have confidence that given this time we can find our way and achieve our destiny whatever it may be.
From our cozy spot here in the Solar System we remind ourselves we are part of the Milky Way Galaxy with some 200 – 400 billion stars. Our sister galaxy Andromeda is bigger and has on the order a trillion stars (1,000 billion).
Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies rotate around each other forming the Local Group and together revolve around the center of the Virgo Cluster. The Virgo Cluster is comprised of at least 1,300 galaxies each with billions of stars.
Virgo Cluster is just one of a 100 galaxy groups in the Virgo Supercluster which is one of millions of superclusters in the observable universe. Whatever the universe is doing or trying to accomplish (if you think of it that way) it certainly is putting a lot of time and space into it!
Rest assured that we’re part of something mysterious and greater than we can possibly imagine.
Now take the human. Include the entire 2 million years of our time here on Earth and imagine every person that has come and gone. Pick a particular period and imagine what life must have been like. What would your primary concerns be if you lived during the Ice Ages? Life span was shorter. Keeping the fire burning was critical to survival. Food was nearby but had to be hunted and gathered. Injury could be fatal and so had to be cautiously avoided.
Now imagine being one of the first humans on a much warmer savannah in Africa some 2 million years ago. You’re in a small band that is searching for food. Other animals are too and can be deadly. Your group comes to a clearing, a resting place, and for a moment you have a flash of conscious reflection. There you are with a small group of people under the night sky. What do we do? Where do we go?
These are cosmological questions that have been thought or expressed since the beginning of the human experience. They’re still the most basic questions today. Reflecting on the universe, it’s size, it’s age, the tremendous journey through time that has carried the elements, the galaxies, the planets, life and us can be an exhilarating release.
Framed in a cosmic perspective our everyday personal issues and challenges are seen in a new light.