Every now and again, something happens to you that simply puts the insignificance of life into perspective. I am not a philosopher, neither am I a religious person in the formal sense, because I don’t subscribe to any sectarian or religious point of view (beyond accepting that the natural order of things in the world which we inhabit is attributable, shall we say, to the influence of the Great Architect of the Universe ). I never wished for the moon, either metaphorically, or as a physical goal, though the night sky has always fascinated me and made me feel guilty that I have had neither the time, nor indeed that particular intelligence needed, to get to grips with astronomy. The past few days have been blessed with good weather and, for the most part, clear, cloudless skies during the couple of hours following sunset. This co-incided with regular passes over southern England by the International Space Station, moving fairly rapidly across the sky from west to east, and visible for perhaps three or four minutes on each pass. It appeared as a very large bright light in the west, and as it came overhead it was easily the largest object in the darkening sky – much bigger indeed than even the planet Venus which was visible towards the westerly horizon. I watched in awe ( a feeling repeated each time I saw it) as it seemed to hurl itself across the dark blue velvet on a relentless journey round and round the Earth. Put up there by humans, like some mega-Ikea project, and almost as large as a football pitch, it dazzled as it hurtled above my head.
It suddenly occurred to me at one point that there were actually people on board that celestial craft – perhaps peering through the windows of their living quarters, and wondering what was happening down there on Earth. It was at that point that I realised my true insignificance and the fact that whatever we think we do well as individuals, it pales into insignificance alongside the realisation of a massive co-operative human endeavour like the International Space Station up there in the sky like some huge, gangling collection of solar panels. The whole experience reminded me of an old Welsh saying: “Well gen i edrych arno fo, i weld os ydi o yn edrych arna”i, nag iddo fo edrych arna”i, i weld os ydw i yn edrych arno fo…” – “Better for me to look at him, to see if he is looking at me, rather than for him to look at me, to see if I am looking at him!”
Individually, it seems we really are insignificant in the grand scheme of things……
(First posted 8 July, 2010, before blog was corrupted and had to be re-built)