Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
I have long been a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, not only because I too at an early age fell in love with the stars from a visit at Montreal's Planetarium or because astrophysics was my favorite class in CEGEP, but because I was always pleasantly amused, deeply touched and often left in awe by the grace and poetic ease with which he taught the science of the universe and the origins of life. For a taste of his linguistic prowess, you may want to watch this video where his interviews were mixed into a rap about the universe.
Watching Cosmos, hosted by Tyson, I was once again reminded that it wasn't the science alone that I was so passionately responding to; it was the inherent message about life itself that was revealed in each principle explained. Because what Tyson and Cosmos do is remind us of one of life's simplest and yet most often neglected truth: we are all intimately and irrevocably fundamentally connected not only to each other but to life itself.
Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That's kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It's not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
I cannot imagine a more humbling, more uniting concept, or a more beneficial one for all of humanity. In times of uncertainty with the threat of climate change looming over us, understanding that we are innately and supremely connected to all of life is the only way of ensuring that we start to safeguard it in every way we can. It is accepting a truth too often taken for granted: that our history and therefore our future lies in the protection and nurturing of all that lies around us. In doing this, we finally come to the much needed realisation that it is on our own hands and in our power not only to preserve our planet but also to build a better world.
The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.
Neil deGrasse Tyson's response on Reddit when asked "What can you tell a young man looking for motivation in life itself?"
So, thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson for years of scientific poetry, thank you for Cosmos and thank you so very much for this.