Mote of Dust Suspended in a Sunbeam

October 24th, 2019 by Kelly Kienzle

Do you remember this photo from 1990? Do you see our “pale blue dot”? Look closely in the center, a bit to the right. This is a photograph taken of the Earth as the Voyager left it behind to explore our solar system.  This photo helps me remember how infinitesimally small our world is.  

The great scientist, Carl Sagan, captured the tininess of us all when he requested the photo be taken and then described our place in the universe. He wrote that “everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives” on this “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Some people may find it disheartening to realize how small we are in this universe.  Yet for me, I see great freedom.  If we are indeed only a “pale blue dot” in a great, wide canvas, then why shouldn’t I live my life with the freedom and authenticity I most want, so long as I stay within the bounds of human kindness?

If our entire lives on this wide world of ours is still only a fraction of a “mote of dust”, then why not live with more abandon? Why not pursue what is important to us?  Our lives are only an instant-long, so why not seize this day now and do what we believe to be true and right for us?

I don’t understand why I lived in fear for so long. I lived in fear that I wasn’t doing the right thing or doing enough of it.  But who put those ideas into my head?

Well, I was influenced by other people who are also only a fraction of a dust-mote. They may have believed they were helping me and I appreciate their attention and earnestness.  Others may have been seeking validation for what they chose and so they sought to feel better about their choice by urging me to make a similar one.

However, all of this reckoning and standard-setting by others is of no use to me now. I have my own precious little space “suspended in a sunbeam” that I want to use in a way that is as uniquely me as I can make it.

What other-people-standards do you hold onto? What comparisons do you make between yourself and others?  I still carry far too many, but I am shedding them steadily, so I can float as free and easy as a tiny dust mote in the sunshine.

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