The Milky Way
Our galaxy, The Milky Way, measures about 100,000 light years across and contains about 200 billion stars.
In case you skimmed over that, read it again.
Think of how big the Earth is; it’s massive. Just get in a plane and travel somewhere far away and you’re instantly reminded how big our planet truly is.
Then image the size of the Sun, which by the way is 109 times larger than Earth.
If you got in a plane and flew around the Sun, you’d complete the round trip in a peppy 4,800 hours. In other words, it’s really big.
Now picture that and multiple it by 200 billion. That gives you the scale of our galaxy.
Insanely, there are over 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, of which the Milky Way is just average size.
When you stop and think about it, we’re so small we’re almost invisible.
There are more stars in the Universe than grains of sand on our planet, and each star is a giant Sun like our own. Imagine picking up a tiny grain of sand and then try and imagine if that tiny grain of sand were the Sun just how small a person would be in comparison.
We’re all part of something that is much larger than ourselves – nano-citizens of galactic time and space.
And yet what we do has so much meaning. We may be microscopically small, but to those around us, to the people we touch and interact with on a daily basis, we have a large impact.
There’s a scene in the movie Contact where the character played by Jodie Foster’s father, who is really an alien using his image to appear less frightening to her, makes contact and in describing their species travels throughout space, says “in all our searching, the only thing we found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
Over the past few years, I’ve spent a ton of time focusing on molecular engineering, bio-technology, and life sciences, specifically as it relates to cancer.
The vastness and complexity of the inner body is almost as mind boggling as outer-space.
And yet when you spend time thinking about either, you realize how precious life is.
We may be small, but our capacity to love is big. And we may be helpless, as fate and a myriad of factors beyond our control are ultimately in control of our destiny, but every minute we have belongs to us.
We have the capacity to touch and impact so many lives leaving behind a giant foot print, even though our feet are really tiny in the grand scheme of things.
Most people (me included) sign up for things that we want to do in the New Year – “I want to lose ten pounds” or “I want to run a Marathon.”
Rarely does someone say, “I want to change the world” or “I want to have a positive impact on someone’s life.”.
It’s hard to focus on others; it’s unnatural. We’re all wired to look inward and focus on ourselves or those closest to us.
But there has to be more to life.
All of those stars and galaxies in the Universe can’t be there for us to work on our golf swing or to drop a waist size.
There has to be more…