(Over)View From the Top
It's not really a small world after all.
Moving halfway around the world in 2022 hasn't been quite as daunting as I'd feared. Technology has made it easier to keep up with family and friends from home, for one. I remember the days of traveling out of the country with no mobile internet, when I had to make expensive international phone calls to stay in touch. Now even our puppy joins us for video calls.
Indeed, technology has made the world a smaller place. These days we can even circle the globe - or even fly to the stars - without getting up from our beds. Nothing defeats the real thing, of course, but such a means of "travel" is possible now. Just last week I joined a virtual tour of Pompeii. Not only did I get to see the city and reconstructions of what it was like before that famous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, I was in total comfort, and I didn't spend a penny. And when I wasn't able to wake up in the wee hours of dawn to catch the lunar eclipse, I only had to pull up a YouTube live stream. There, I saw a view far more spectacular than the limited one I would've had from my vantage point.
Then my husband and I visited the Gaia exhibit.
Gaia is a touring art installation by UK artist Luke Jerram. It's a three-dimensional reconstruction of the globe from detailed NASA imagery. Ever fancied yourself as an astronaut, watching a slowly spinning, beautiful blue and white ball, from the moon? You'll be in the right place. The installation, in fact, aims to provide a sense of something called the Overview Effect. That's described as a feeling of awe for our home, an understanding of how all life on Earth is connected, and a sense of responsibility for taking care of our environment. Astronauts are often the ones who experience it, though the phenomenon was actually first described by author Frank White in 1987.
The art certainly resonated with me. Its message struck me the hardest when I sat down to film the spinning, and I had to wait for over a minute before our home country, the Philippines, came into view. Earth was not a small world, not by a long shot! And as we silently watched it continue to turn, I thought about how small and insignificant I was in the grand scheme of things. Does anything I do actually matter? Does it truly make a difference if I do good? Is it even possible to change the world, when there are so many other, larger forces at play?
I thought about the song Dust in the Wind.
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
It's easy to be jaded when confronted by one's insignificance, especially in the age of social media, where anyone can be anybody, and everyone flaunts their accomplishments and how wonderful their lives are on a daily basis. I know I've felt that before. But after I shared those thoughts with my husband, and after we philosophized for a bit, I felt a pressure lift from my shoulders. We live in a big world, with billions of other people scattered all over its surface. I might only be a speck of dust, but don't storms start when winds of change come and lift the dust off from the ground? (A lot of dust can cause allergies too, if you prefer a less dramatic metaphor. Point is, even dust can have an effect!)
There, too, is the fact that we can influence smaller "worlds," the circles in which we operate. And we get a big circle by adding up those small circles. So it's all true what they say, cliché as these may sound: together we can achieve more, there's strength in numbers, teamwork makes the dream work, for every action there is a reaction. Nothing we do is insignificant. None of us is insignificant.
I still want to change the world. I still want to do something that will touch lives and make things better. But now I know I don't have to go at it alone.
About the author
Filipino author, singer-songwriter and theatre actress. Loves writing fantasy short stories, composing songs for books, and reading SFF and YA. Also writes romance, horror and scifi. Married and based in the UK. www.mariesinadjan.com