Photo by Juan on

How many times have you looked up at the sky and wondered what else is out there? Or just stood there in awe thinking about how vast it all is? Have you ever felt so small looking up at a night sky filled with stars, and at the same time felt so connected to something far greater than yourself? I know I have.

And recently I came across two news articles that brought these questions up again.

Closest Photo Of The Sun Ever

One was about how we have received photos from the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter satellite mission – the closest photo of the sun ever taken. The photo in question was taken a mere 77 million kilometres from the sun’s surface (we are about 150 million kilometres away). The image is quite spectacular, showing a number of smaller fires within the sun’s sphere. 

Scientists are hoping to understand more about the sun’s environment by obtaining more images over the next two years. They also hope to be able to understand why the sun’s outer atmosphere (called the ‘corona’….yikes!) is hundreds of times hotter than the actual surface. I am looking forward to seeing more photos as they are made public, and to reading about the findings.

If you are interested, here is a link to the article:

China Mission To Mars

The other piece that caught my attention was about China’s first solo mission to Mars. If successful, the mission will collect information about how water ice is distributed on the planet and its physical evolution and habitability over time. Scientists believe that water once flowed on Mars’ surface, and hopefully the data this mission collects will be able to confirm that. 

It is amazing to me that someone out there (or rather, a team of someones) can figure out how to send a spacecraft, lander and rover to Mars, have it hover in its orbit until a safe time and place to land present themselves, and then land safely. I mean, wow, what kind of brain works all those details out? Certainly not mine! 

And I love the spacecraft’s name “Tianwen-1”, which means “quest for heavenly truth” (also translated as “questions to heaven”).

“Tianwen-1” was launched on July 23rd, and is scheduled to arrive in Mars’ atmosphere in February 2021. Here’s to hoping the mission is success so we can see what images and information comes of it.

And from what I’ve just read, this is only one of the missions to Mars currently happening – so hopefully lots of new information will be coming our way.

If you want the full article, you can find it here:

And here’s another article with more details about what the mission hopes to accomplish as well as info on the other Mars missions:

An Early Childhood Question

Like many, I am intrigued by the thought of there being other habitable planets out there, and other living beings. I grew up watching Star Trek and have enjoyed movies like The Martian (though I’m not a big fan of Planet Of The Apes). And my favourite cartoon character is Marvin The Martian.

My Marvin The Martian keychain – I have had this baby for many years now and it has held onto keys from many homes around the globe.

Lately though news like this leads me to thinking about the bigger questions of “who are we, really”, “what else is out there”, “how do we fit in all of this” and ultimately “what does it all mean?”. I wonder if it’s because of my age – is it a question that we ponder more and more the more birthdays we see?

Or maybe it’s not that unusual for me. I had similar thoughts early in life – and I do mean early!

I think I was about seven years old when my older sister brought home her school class’ pet hamster. I’m not sure how long we had it, I think it was over a summer, but my memory is a little foggy on that. What remains clear in my head is that one morning I found myself looking at the hamster as it ran on its wheel in its cage. And what thought pops into my little head? Well, it was…..

”I wonder if we are all just running on a big wheel that someone or something else has put in a cage. What if we are just someone else’s ‘hamster’?”. Holy crap. 

I have no idea where that thought came from, but it scared the living daylights out of me. I ran out of the room and pretty much stayed away from that hamster from then on. I didn’t say anything to anyone, didn’t ask my parents what they thought, nothing. I shoved it aside – it was way too much for my little head.

That memory and thought remained locked away in the back of my mind for some time before it resurfaced.

Now I think back on that memory and laugh – I mean really, how many other seven year-olds ask themselves that question??? When I start telling people about this most think I’m going to say that I wondered if the hamster was going to die…nope. Not me. I came up with an existential question. 

Existential Questions Make My Brain Explode

So as space missions get closer to other planets, moons and the sun and bring back more information about our galaxy, the universe, and whatever else is out there, I find myself wondering again…how does this all work? Who are we? What does it all mean? What? How? Why?

Then my yoga teacher training and related courses kick in and there’s another voice in my head that says “it doesn’t mean anything”, “none of it is real”, “don’t be attached to any of it”. 

And I realize that the hamster wheel is quite firmly located between my two ears….working hard and running fast….

Time to be back on my yoga mat and meditate to calm myself down!

What about you? Are these thoughts you have or do you steer clear of them? Any comments, feedback, thoughts, anecdotes are welcome.

Live Long And Prosper!

Getting back on my mat helps calm the hamster in my brain

PS: if you are interested in reading about my yoga teacher training experience, here’s my post about that: