Perspective as the Earth Tilts

What's around the bend for us, neighbors?
What's around the bend for us, neighbors?

Nearing the year’s end on this Winter Solstice, together we have come one more spin around the Day Star. It is a time for a last trip of the year, forward and back–or more precisely, out. Far out.

But let’s start this excursion where we live–at home. In this case, from my own personal orbit, viewing the Goose Creek solar system from the perspective of ten years of space-time. I report what I see in the 3 minute WVTF radio essay broadcast today. You can listen online.

Then, consider the pin-wheel fireworks of innumerable suns that we call the Milky Way–the individual droplets of light so dense that, even from light years away, their pinpoint brilliance smears against the blackness of the vacuum of space. Prepare to be astounded as you consider this one of a trillion trillion galaxies, average in every way, except that in it is you. And me. Spend five minutes immersed in the clickable Milky Way in preparation for the final leg of our journey this morning.

We need nothing so much now as a proper perspective of our place in the universe that might help us overcome our pettiness, our egos, our illusions that our group, our party, our nations are autonomous universes on their own. We share in the most precious quality in all the cosmos–life; and more than that, sentient life that can know, understand, care, and act with reason and compassion for the greater good.

Please stop what you are doing. Take seven minutes in which you recalibrate the metrics by which you have understood your place in the universe, your importance or insignificance. Watch the Tour of the Known Universe. And from that new grounding, look ahead at what we can all do together, dare I use the phrase–a thousand thousand points of light–towards the challenge and opportunity of what comes next.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Your radio essay was a delight. Please always give us a link to every one of your radio essays. I like the travel back in time more than the travel out in space.

  2. I just double clicked on the photo to see it bigger, I hoped, and lo and behold: I got 83 photos on Smugmug to cliuck through and enjoy!! They were a delight.

  3. Fred–This post I truly enjoyed. I don’t know if your intention was to bring us readers from the Local to the Far Out and back to the Local, but that is what you did with this and the reference links. I especially enjoyed hearing a little more of the history of the house on Goose Creek. It’s a whole perspective piece that is appreciated by me on this solstice day. Many thanks.

  4. The snow pictures are fabulous, Fred! But I was stunned when I viewed the Stuart tree pictures – the one with the stained glass effect was just amazing. And the other one, too! Gorgeous!