The universe is approximately 14 billion years old, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. The Earth is estimated at 4.5 billion years old. Man or a man-like creature is reckoned to be between 2.4 and 7 million years old and homo sapiens, from whom we’re descended (correct me if I’m wrong) have been around for about 200,000 years. Not very long at all when measured against the age of the universe and according to physics, everything that is in the universe existed the moment it began. So, we were at some point in the life of the universe, stardust. Wonderful!
‘Good morning starshine, the earth says hello’. Pardon me, just having a little hippie moment there.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched way back in 1977 and it has taken the best part of 40 years to reach the edge of our planetary system and now they are zooming along somewhere in interstellar space at an impressive rate of 37,000 mph. Even at that incredible speed, it is still going to take them 40,000 years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. The vastness of the universe is beyond our comprehension and some planetary facts can be mind-blowing. For instance, it takes Neptune 165 years to complete one orbit of the sun, amazing! But even more amazing is that even if Voyager reaches our nearest star, it would take it, (and this is incredible) 400,000,000 years to reach the other side of the Milky Way. That is a distance beyond comprehension....and that is just one small galaxy in a universe of millions?????
In 1990, when Voyager 1 was leaving our planetary system and heading into interstellar space, a distance of 3.7 billion miles, Nasa, on a suggestion from the writer Carl Sagan, turned Voyager around and took a picture of earth; ‘a pale blue dot’ Sagan called it.
Carl Sagan wrote the great story, Contact, which was later made into a film with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaghey. It is one of my favourites and I strongly recommend it, especially if you like sci-fi or even if you just like a good movie.
So, back to us - the life of a human being is averaged at 3 score and ten, 70 years, if you’re lucky, and many never even come close to this life span. When that is measured against the age of the universe, it really doesn’t amount to very much at all, a mere speck of dust, a fraction of a blink of an eye in the vastness of the cosmos.
So, here we are with our paltry 70 years, on this tiny blue dot rolling around the sun and what do we do with it? In this eye blink of a life, we waste so much of it. We waste it fighting in wars, over land, religion, money, power; making ourselves and everybody else miserable and afraid; scrabbling around like rats trying to ‘make a living’ instead of actually living; bitching and whining about petty stupidities, like what other people have, what we don’t have, how someone looks, how someone lives...
We sacrifice the only life we have (I think) obsessing on nonsense and tying ourselves down to the slavery of capitalism; wasting precious time appeasing the forces of society, family and our own misguided expectations.
We allow others to dictate how the world should be and let them do our thinking for us. The two most destructive concepts man has created, money and religion, have systematically robbed us of the experience of joy in this short life of ours and have created the greatest miseries ever inflicted, not just the human race but on all other life forms on this ‘tiny blue dot’.
Is this really the best we can do with our precious time?