I was so excited the other day about Juno and NASA’s Mission to Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and, likely, the key to how it formed. If you trace that idea back far enough, you understand it also means Jupiter may hold the key to the science of how WE exist. I watched a live stream of mission control as they monitored the end of Juno’s 5-year, 1.8 billion mile journey to orbit Jupiter on Monday night, and I wondered why our whole world hadn’t stopped to watch the same. I could see elsewhere on the Internet that many others had not, for them a night on Earth was unfolding like any other. I understood, I guess. Nothing would be revealed on that first night. But still: it was vital that day’s events be a success. And when they were, a massive achievement to be celebrated.
I don’t think we think about that too much, not on the whole. We are most concerned with what is right in front of us. Otherwise it is out of sight, out of mind. I am lucky and it’s a luxury that I have time at all to dream about stars. I know others are forced to struggle daily, just working to survive or “earn” their place here. That doesn’t leave room for dreaming about the bigger picture, only the present dangers.
But I wonder if it can be a small comfort to try thinking about our existence on this scale.
The news in the last year has eaten me up, chewed and swallowed, and I’ve felt like whatever comes after that on too many occasions. Orlando to Baghdad, Trayvon Martin to Phil Castile—life has always been brutally loud, except now there are so many ways to amplify its noise. I know that it is a privilege itself to be able to log off and look away. So I try not to. I try to stand and watch, be present and be spiritually with those on the front lines somehow. Most importantly, I try to learn about the things I don’t know. I want things to change: violence and racism and fear and hatred. So I’m trying at the very least to listen and learn, trying not to grow hard but stay soft and open, available.
In that, I can’t help traveling back to space, Juno and Jupiter, where we’ve come from, how small we really are—just a speck in the universe, just a blip in time—and how much we really are all the same, the science of us, despite our differences. I want to know about that, more. I think it’s vital. Maybe then we can see what an amazing waste the walls we’ve built between us have been. How they’ve been there for no truly important reason at all. Maybe then we’ll be better at saying I love you, and we’re human, you’re really just like me.