A Higher Perspective
I was thirteen years old in 1969 when the first Moon landing, that we are all remembering this week, occurred. A boy that age is quite impressionable, and I will never forget the photos that were beamed into my family’s living room. Then, as is true now, the photos that most captivated me were not the close-ups of the Moon itself, but rather the first images anyone, in the history of humankind, had ever seen of planet Earth from some 240,000 miles away. I was awestruck then, and fifty years later continue to be so whenever I see a photo of the blue and white marble that is our island home.
When, as a therapist, I have the privilege to work with an individual, family, or organization that is “stuck” in some way or another, after hearing all sides what is going on, I often comment, “I wonder if we can take a moment to zoom out and get a larger perspective on what’s happening.” I then explain that we all have benefited from looking up a location on our smart phones, and then using our fingers to zoom out so we could gain a larger perspective of what we are viewing. That is what I am asking to do with them and their story.
I don’t know about you, but when I am stuck in some kind of conflict with someone, I tend to get tunnel vision. Within my narrow perspective, my limited view has a way of confirming that I am right and that the other person is clearly wrong and is the source of the conflict. If only they would change or go away, then the problem would also go away. On a good day, and often with the help of others, I am able to “zoom out” and see that the problem is more complex than my narrow view is allowing me to see. If I am willing to look at the complexities of the situation, I’ll often then see that there is far more that unites us than we realize. A higher perspective or a “zoomed out” view opens up possibilities of healing and bridge-building that are not evident from the tunnel of my fear-based, limited view.
The early flights into space, including Apollo Eleven’s trip to the Moon, provided the ultimate “zooming out,” giving the world a newer, higher perspective of our planet than had ever been possible before. This week I have read dozens of quotes from astronauts who have remarked on how their view of Earth from outer space was for them a spiritual, transcendent experience.
Read the quote from Michael Collins found above in the meme. He was the person who remained in the spacecraft orbiting the Moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked below on the Moon’s surface.
And here’s a quote from Edgar Mitchell, who flew on Apollo 14, in 1971, the third mission to land on the Moon. “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty.”
The ego focuses on what is petty, and its agenda is to divide, exclude, and protect. I am sure my 13-year-old middle school self back in 1969 was all about that, as children that age frequently are. The ego is our immature self, one that needs to boost itself by mocking and demonizing those who, in our tunnel vision, we deem to be “other.” The soul, on the other hand, offers a higher, spiritual perspective, and its agenda is to transcend and include, and to connect around the universal needs and longings we, across the globe, have in common.
There may not be plans for anyone to return to the Moon again any time soon, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t all celebrate what was achieved fifty years ago by aspiring to “zoom out” to a higher, spiritual perspective. Let’s breakdown our tendencies to be tribal and to turn against the “other” as the problem.
I can think of no better way to celebrate the new perspective we all gained of our Earth, our shared home, fifty years ago this week, than seeing that there is so much more that unites us than divides us.
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