Friday, October 18

pale blue dots and bright blue lines

I move around a fair bit. I think I like it that way. I find newness very attractive. it's not always that I grow utterly tired of the places I've already been... I think it's that new places help me better appreciate old ones. and everything else.

in the past decade, I've received mail at sixteen addresses, and regularly located myself and my belongings at nineteen (not counting the two weeks I lived on Elm Street). if you pile on top of all those the traveling and visiting and camping and in-between places, who knows how many specific coordinates I might be able to claim? plenty of zipcodes have cradled my little head.

my moving around so much is nothing much to boast about. if you've lived in one place most of your life, I'm really curious what that's like. it's too late for me to find out for myself, so you have to tell me. how does that feel?

I have raided the Pictures directory on this old macbook in order to present to you a selection of random snapshots. none of them are from the same place. none of them hail from the current context within which I find myself. none of them come from any of the specific houses I've lived in, either. these are extracurricular locations. vacations. escapes from the coop of day-to-day existence. these photos are from adventures, not from life.
we're more likely, it seems, to document the unusual, out-of-the-way places we go. the images in my Pictures directory are primarily categorized that way: 2009 Hawaii. 2010 LA. 2011 Antelope Island. 2012 Europe. those collections--the extracurricular--outnumber the photos of my regular life... whatever that means. after all, what's the difference between the life in these photos and the life outside of them? all of it is my life, I think. why draw lines around certain bits and call those more important or more worthy of documentation than others?

either way, I only have so many photos. only so many days and only so many places. I still haven't figured out how to be on this side of the ocean and that side at the same time. they haven't started building houses on the ocean floor, yet. only a few people get to live on the border between here and space, so far.
last month Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke here at Purdue. his closing statement reprised Sagan's reflections on the pale blue dot, this time using a photo taken from behind the rings of Saturn. "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark," the book of Sagan tells us. we live and play and move on "a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena."

the words and that moment gave me chills.
{ photo borrowed from the awesome folks at NASA }

in the cozy little zipcodes where I spend most of my time, it's easy to forget all the great, enveloping cosmic dark. other times it's not easy at all. but at least on this little planet, inside so much cosmic dark, there are plenty of warm, bright spheres full of anything but darkness. every golden autumn, well-wrapped winter, slippery springtime, and unbridled summer makes room for bits of adventure, whether the lines between zipcodes or seasons or vacation times matter or not.

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