So Earth day is approaching and I have been thinking a lot lately about a quote from Socrates:
"Man must rise above the Earth...to the top of the atmosphere and beyond...for only thus will he understand the world in which he lives."
And then that quote got me thinking about other quotes, from the astronauts who are among the lucky few that have risen above the Earth and beyond, and how that perspective changed them and the way they understand the world on which they live.
I have created a series of paintings based on some of those quotes, and I'm going to post them here, one-a-day until Earth day. Some are deep and profound, some are not, but they all represent very human responses to (what I can only imagine) is an extraordinary experience.
People often ask me what is the value of space exploration, and there are so many answers to that question, but this is one that I often forget about. It was not a coincidence that the environmental movement started and the first Earth day celebrations happened soon after the Apollo program began returning images of the Earth from a distance, like this gorgeous view from Apollo 8. Seeing even a photograph of our world hanging there alone in the vastness of space made us instantly aware of how fragile it is, but for those that have seen that view in person, nearly all of them describe it as profound and life changing.
So, here is the first one. This is probably my favorite quote among the bunch. It is from Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, who I think is the most poetic of the astronauts.
"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the plant Earth. I didn't feel like a giant, I felt very, very small."