I've been thinking about separations lately - the edges and boundaries that we create for ourselves. Most of us certainly have psychological separations in the social and political realms of our lives, but I’ve also been thinking about these edges when it comes to thinking about ecology.
When we think about the sky, we may think about it as this immutable blue beyond… it is a layer of the earth that is way above our heads. And, we still might even say that “the sky’s the limit.”
But, there aren’t any real barriers between us and the sky way above our heads. The separation is an illusion. What we call the Sky reaches right down to the ground that we stand on— The sky starts as soon as the ground ends. What is really interesting is that we’re actually breathing sky. The sky’s molecules of oxygen fill our lungs and populate each of the cells in our bodies. We are sky.
Conversely, on the top side of our atmosphere, where does the sky end and outer space begin?
I realize that we have scientific designations that we’ve given to the layers of this paper-thin cover that sustains life on this planet: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. Each of these layers has a distinct set of temperature, composition, and airflow. But, if you were to take the viewpoint of an astronaut in orbit, would you be able to see an edge where space stops and earth’s atmosphere starts? I imagine that as you approach the atmosphere, the hardness of its edge begins to fall away. It becomes a gradient with space that slowly merges together.
The only hard edge to be seen is that of the ground.
So, essentially, not only are we breathing sky, we are also in space.
As I start to make the journey to the Arctic 10 days from today, these ideas of separation and interconnection are on the top of my mind. What will I see that forever alters how I think about this planet? Who are the people I’ll meet and share this special time with? How can I translate what I learn into new works of art? No doubt I’ll have things to share along the way, so I intend to blog on the ship and will post my writing when I return.
Thank you for being on this journey with me.
This activity is made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) through a grant from The McKnight Foundation.