My cover photo on twitter is of the famous photo, 'Pale Blue Dot'. For those that don't know, it's a picture of Earth from the edge of the solar system by Voyager 1.
Carl Sagan wrote about the picture in his book of the same name:
Look again at that dot. 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.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
I love his writing and this passage. Sagan's prose is scientific and poetic. It reminds me to slow down and maintain some perspective with my personal life and the world at large.
I'm not easily moved. I'm atheist and often cynical. But this photo deeply resonates with me and feel fortunate to have found it (pretty sure it was on StumbleUpon ❤️).
Beyond the lessons from the photo itself, I've learned that is important for me to have a core totems like it that will re-center myself when I feel off course. Life is moving so fast with so many distractions. Having something that can slow it back down is so valuable. Whether it be a person, place, or thing, I hope everyone has at least one in their life.