Lost in space

‘Read, look into other areas, use different learning mediums, ask better questions, reflect, be open to ideas, be surrounded by learners, and prioritise learning.’*
(Michael Heppell)

‘I know perfectly well my own egotism,
And know my omnivorous words, and cannot say any less,
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.’**
(Walt Whitman)

As 2017 comes to a close, Maria Popova reflects upon what has been a turbulent year.  As a means of reflecting on this, Popova alights on the story of the 1977 NASA mission to send the spacecraft Voyager to take images of the outer limits of our solar system:

‘When I was growing up in Bulgaria, a great point of national pride — and we Bulgarians don’t have too many — was that an old Bulgarian folk song had sailed into space aboard the Voyager spacecraft, the 1977 mission NASA launched with the scientific objective of photographing the planets of the outer solar system, which furnished the very first portrait of our cosmic neighbourhood.  Human eyes had never before been laid on the arresting aquamarine of Uranus, on Neptune’s stunning deep-blue orb, on the splendid fury of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — a storm more than threefold the size of our entire planet, raging for three hundred years, the very existence of which dwarfs every earthly trouble.’^

But there was another dimension to the mission, beyond the scientific inquiry:

‘But the Voyager also had another, more romantic mission.  Aboard it was the Golden Record — a time-capsule of the human spirit encrypted in binary code on a twelve-inch gold-plated copper disc, containing greetings in the fifty-four most populist human languages and one from the humpback whales, 117 images of life on Earth, and a representative selection of our planet’s sounds, from an erupting volcano to a kiss to Bach — and that Bulgarian folk song.’^

I feel that what Popova is describing here – her subtitle for which is illuminating: “Perspective to lift the blinders of our cultural moment” – is true for the mission we find each find ourselves on through space and time: inquiry and poetry.  ,These are the things that help us move forward in the best of ways rather than intoxicated with our own importance:

“In this way of working, you’e got to have a lot of humility.  You don’t have the answers.  You’re creating space for relationships to form and innovation to emerge, which is the responsibility of senior leadership.”^^

Peter Senge is quoting businesswoman Vivienne Cox here.  He later writes, in what is a critically important book for Earth, how we need:

‘to rediscover our capacity for awe at the marvel of the living world and our fellow travellers on Spaceship Earth, without which we are unlikely to discover our place in the larger natural order.’*^

Reality is, we are all voyagers, travelling through time and space, recording and learning from what we see, going beyond the useful to the poetic – the greater story, indeed, the greatest story we’re all included in.

(*From Michael Heppell’s The Edge.)
(**From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.)
(^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: A Reflection on Living Through Turbulent Times.)
(^^Vivienne Cox, quote in Peter Senge’s The Necessary 
Revolution.)
(*^From Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.)

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