Saturday, 14 November 2009

Put in my Place

People's reactions to my upcoming trip have ranged from intrigue to incredulity to laughter and the occasional 'oh, right... anyway', but most have followed the theme of rather-you-than-me or I'd-love-to-do-that-but-couldn't-ever; no one's really thought it a 'normal' thing to do.
Maybe it's down to the fact I've been thinking about or in some way planning it for the past 3 or 4 years and my view of a 'normal' way to spend a life has been skewed, but I really can't envisage waking up without the prospect of riding my bike around the world in the near future.

I think that with a little bit of perspective (the 'bigger picture') it really shouldn't seem so crazy. Here's an image and some facts that I fall back on when things get a bit overwhelming and I need to see things in their proper light.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field - 10 billion galaxies, 13 billion years

Our place in time:
13.7 billion years ago - The Big Bang and the 'birth' of the universe;
10 billion years ago - Our galaxy, the Milky Way, formed;
4.6 billion years ago - Our solar system formed;
4.5 billion years ago - The Earth formed;
3.5 billion years ago (possibly) - First life arose on Earth;
195,000 years ago - Origin of modern humans;
12,000 years ago - Beginning of human civilization;
Nearly 23 years ago - I was born;
70 years in the future - My temporary existence will be over.

Our place in space:
We live on a miniscule planet, orbiting an average star, in a solar system that spans a tiny area in an arm of a small, unremarkable galaxy. Our home galaxy is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, and each one contains hundreds of billions, even trillions, of stars. Our entire universe itself is likely to be one of many.

In light of all this and far more besides, I think my motives become far more logical -
I want to make the most of my brief time and see and experience as much of the planet as possible, gaining a first-hand insight into its people and places, landscapes and nature, cultures, societies, opinions and daily lives along the way, unaffected by the bias and prejudice so frequently and unknowingly tainting our views.

In the midst of all that I will most certainly lose perspective and moan and cry and be scared, but I will be living my life in the very heart of what I consider to be the Real World and I will, looking back in 70 years' time from wherever I might be enjoying my last few days, have loved every minute of a trip that shaped the rest of my life.

Human existence in context; Earth (bright dot towards the left) seen through Saturn's rings in an actual image from the Cassini Spacecraft, approx. 790 million miles away.

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