3D Ideas 883: The Pale Blue Dot

Alan writes: “Scientists at NASA have unveiled a re-worked picture entitled ‘The Pale Blue Dot’, first captured 30 years ago on Friday by the Voyager 1 probe. What does it show? Well, us – the earth – seen from a distance of about 4 billion miles. The iconic view was made famous by Carl Sagan in his 1994 book ‘Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.’ He described the planet Earth as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”. The image has now been re-worked using modern techniques and software. To me it is charming and disturbing in equal measure.

One of the skills of helping people to think differently is to get them – metaphorically – to ‘stand in a different place’; if we stand in the same place we will usually see things in broadly the same way. A new view of life and its options normally follows when we are invited to make an internal shift in our standpoint. Technically we call this ‘reframing’ – and it can involve a positional shift, or a temporal shift. ‘What would it look like if you stood here?’ ‘What might it look like from the viewpoint of another person?’ ‘What might you notice if, in your imagination, you were to stand 12 months down the line and look back?’ These imaginative shifts open up new possibilities and new ways of seeing.


The NASA image has that impact on me. Thoughts turn… Smallness and greatness. Though I’m writing this gazing out of the window at the reassuring solidity of Belgravia’s elegant tree-lined streets and townhouses, and the vastness of this great city in which they are set, caught up in the seeming importance of life here (and my obsession with my life within that life), the view from 4 billion miles away moves things into a new perspective. The big things are suddenly very small indeed – and the things I suddenly need to be aware of come into focus. This tiny dot is us: and it is all we have. It is, within the ambit of the whole immensity of creation, entrusted to our care. We aren’t doing such a great job, are we? As Lent approaches, time perhaps for us to re-work our picture of life as a gift.”

Ⓒ 3D Coaching Ltd 2020

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