Most people have seen photos or videos of the International Space Station (ISS). This habitable floating structure is said to reside in low Earth orbit, performing various astrophysics experiments and observing our delicate blue-green gem of Earth. From the vantage point above and beyond the gravitational reality that keeps the rest of us earthlings pinned to the ground, ISS astronauts say they can see life through a different, largely more objective perspective.
I recall viewing a video of ISS astronaut activity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The strikingly peaceful video provided a stark contrast to the chaos and fear unfolding. From their perspective, reality appeared quite different — serene. There was no sign of a pandemic from outer space.
I often think of what I now refer to as the space station view of everyday life to re-orient the swell of fear, panic, and urgency that can so easily become a consuming part of daily human life. From space, no matter how big a person’s problem, no matter how terrified they may be of an economic crisis, relationship issue, career disaster, or global pandemic, it’s inconsequential from the perspective of the ISS.
This perspective isn’t meant to minimize the significance of the trauma and drama in our lives but instead stands as an offering to compliment it to counterbalance the depth of our suffering. It’s a reminder that we’re each small drops in the massive ocean that is existence and encourages us not to sweat the small stuff — or even the big stuff. Though our realities feel of the utmost importance to each of us, we’re each the main characters in the saga of our lives. Nothing is really that important in the greater scheme of the universe. After all, stars are being born and dying every day while we stress about our lifestyle choices and social media content.
When you reflect on your life from the perspective of a space station view, you can re-enter the flow and surrender that’s required to exist within a reality where large amounts of your experience are beyond your control. And those aspects that are in your control? They may not be as earth-shatteringly crucial and delicate as you fear.
This perspective allows room for mistakes. It opens space for grace and the release of rigidity. It fosters an invitation for you to marvel at the reality that, regardless of supernovae exploding mere galaxies away, we were granted the luck that Earth maintains the sweet-spot distance from our sun that allows warmth without incineration while providing rare availability of liquid water and breathable oxygen necessary for us to exist at all.
You are here. Right now. Alive as a conscious speck amid the sands of time and space, living your daily life and microwaving your leftover mac-n-cheese lunch at the office.
Far from being a nihilistic impulse to minimize the grudges and worries of daily life, this perspective of the space station view invites sacredness back to your experience through awe and wonder — two qualities many have lost touch within the hustle and bustle of modern-day living. We get so inundated and obsessed with our daily tribulations, building mountains of drama for ourselves that wreck our nervous systems and our relationships alike, that we overlook all there is to marvel about. We forget to wonder at the miracle that any of us exist at all.
I, myself, often fail to remember that, along with the high unlikeliness that life would form and evolve on Earth at all, the fact that my great-grandparents met each other during a random social moment and came together to create my parents, who, out of all the genetic variations possible, created me, it’s just so humbling and re-orienting. Also, it’s profoundly relieving to surrender to the reality that there’s more I don’t know than what I do. It removes pressure.
I can’t remember any of this if I’m stuck in the perception of life that sees my daily commute, strained relationships, and sensitivity to dairy as being all that’s real. I must step back — way back —to recognize my life for what it truly is: a mystery that plays out daily for my experiential learning. I’m on a ride I somehow got a ticket for that takes me through existence on planet Earth where I get to consciously navigate the balance of daily minutia in relationship with existential enigma.
To support the space station view, I recommend that you play with orienting yourself larger and smaller than your current reality by learning about facets of existence that divert the focus from the regular human experience alone. Zoom out to astrophysics, zoom in to microbiology. Consider science fiction and fantasy stories to open your mind, or read about the tiny Tardigrades, which are micro-animals living all over the world in mossy water-based environments (they’re cool — look them up!).
There are podcasts and books galore that will catapult you beyond your limited 21st century human perspective and directly into mindsets of wonder and awe. Below are three such resources I’ve enjoyed for this very purpose:
Podcast: “Through The Looking Glass” on the TED Radio Hour Podcast
Books: Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life, by Dacher Keltner; and The Power of Wonder: The Extraordinary Emotion That Will Change The Way You Live, Learn, and Lead, by Monica C. Parker
Kate King is a licensed professional counselor, board-certified art therapist, radiant life coach, published author, professional artist, and creative entrepreneur. She expertly teaches a unique transformational healing strategy that integrates science, psychology, creativity, and spirituality. Her new book is The Radiant Life Project: Awaken Your Purpose, Heal Your Past, and Transform Your Future (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Nov. 1, 2023). Learn more at theradiantlifeproject.com.
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