| Perceiving and conceiving a new view of the world |
A pair of wings, a different mode of breathing, which would enable us to traverse infinite space, would in no way help us, for, if we visited Mars or Venus keeping the same senses, they would clothe in the same aspect as the things of the earth everything that we should be capable of seeing. The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is[.]
— Marcel Proust
Remembrance of Things Past | Marcel Proust
Everything is begging to be discovered, not accidentally, but intuitively. Seeking intuitively, one’s destination is never in a beyond of time or space but always here and now. If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.
— Henry Miller
Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch | Henry Miller
Travel inspires us to see the world differently. Whether it’s the Himalayan mountains towering above us or the Great Wall of China extending before us or the endlessly rich biodiversity of a rainforest surrounding us, traveling around the world expands the horizons of our minds and imaginations. However it does not necessarily change our perspective of the world. Seeing more of the various parts does not always help us comprehend the multidimensional nature of the greater whole.
But traveling into space expands us in a new direction all together. The view from above is a higher level perspective that can give us a completely different frame of reference in which to contextualize the world. In this bigger picture, everything seems smaller yet more closely connected, farther away yet more deeply alive, less significant yet so much more meaningful.
These perceptions and the conceptions which emerge from them contribute to what Frank White called the overview effect, which has been described as:
… an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.
The overview effect seems to result from experiencing a synergistic feedback loop between the expansion of our physical and mental perspectives. This expansion has the potential to transform our sense of ourselves and the world. Although only one example, the overview effect exemplifies the idea that transformative experiences are defined by holistic changes in a person’s point of view. As science continues to peek behind the curtain of these kinds of experiences, we may discover not just new ways of looking but a whole new vision for our future.
Overview (Vimeo) | Planetary Collective
overviewthemovie.com | Planetary Collective
The wholeness of the Earth makes it a symbol of almost all that is meaningful in human life; it has tremendous, perhaps absolute, conceptual vastness. Seeing it from a distance, when one is disconnected physically yet connected emotionally, conjures thoughts of home, of the entirety of one’s world, and of mankind as a whole … We suggest that the tendency is, quite literally, to think in global terms, and that the ability to behold all at once the entire domain in which these human themes reside contributes to the overwhelming sense of awe.
[T]he overview effect might usefully be understood in terms of awe and self-transcendent experience, with concomitant changes to the observer’s self-schema and value system, which in some cases could be considered transformative … Awe and self-transcendence are among the deepest and most powerful aspects of the human experience; it should come as no surprise that they emerge as we gaze upon our home planet and our whole world comes into view.
The Overview Effect: Awe and Self-Transcendent Experience in Space Flight | Psychology of Consciousness: Yaden • Iwry • Slack • Eichstaedt • Zhao • Vaillant • Newberg