Looking Down

Looking Down

From A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Looking Down

Up there you go around every hour and a half; time after time, after time, and you wake up in the morning over the mid-East, and over North Africa. You look out of your window as you’re eating breakfast—and there’s the whole Mediterranean area, and Greece and Rome, and the Sinai and Israel. And you realize that what you are seeing in one glance was the whole history of man for centuries; the cradle of civilization.

You go across the Atlantic Ocean, back across North Africa. You do it again and again. You identify with Houston, and then you identify with Los Angeles, and Phoenix and New Orleans. And the next thing you know, you are starting to identify with North Africa. You look forward to it. You anticipate it. And the whole process of what you identify with begins to shift.

When you go around it every hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. And that makes a very powerful change inside of you.. .

As you look down you can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you cross—again and again. And you can’t even see them. But you know that in the “wake-up” scene you saw before over the Mid-East, there are thousands of people fighting over some imaginary line that you can’t even see. And you wish you could take each of them hand in hand, and say “Look at that! Look at that! What’s important?”

Later the person sitting next to you goes out to the moon. And he sees the Earth, not as something big with all kinds of beautiful details; he sees it as a small thing out there. And the contrast between that small blue and white Christmas tree ornament and that black sky really comes through. .. and you realize that on that little blue and white spot is everything that means anything to you—all history, and music, and war, and death, and birth, and love, and tears, and joy—all of it on that little blue and white spot that you can cover with your thumb.

It comes through to you so clearly that you are a sensing point for man. You look down and you see the surface of the globe that you have lived on all this time and you know that all those people down there—they are you. And somehow, you represent them and have a responsibility to them. Somehow you recognize that you are a piece of this total life. You’re out there on the forefront and you have to bring your experience back somehow. It becomes a rather special responsibility, and it tells you about your relationship to this thing we call the world.

All through this I’ve used the word “you” because it’s not me, Rusty Schweickart. .. or any of the others that have had this experience. It’s not just my problem— my challenge—my joy to integrate into daily life. It’s everyone’s.

Rusty Schweickart

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners