“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
― Arthur C. Clarke

Our planet, as we know it, is home to nearly 7.6 billion people. And that’s only the number for humans. There are many more forms of life, what we may know about or not, living in the vast seas and inhospitable wilderness. And yet, every time we look up, it’s hard to overcome the feeling of being alone. It’s tempting to speculate and fall prey to our imagination. What lies beyond the vast bed of blue? What lies in the vacuum of space? What lies in the darkness of the night? And why is the night dark at all?

“Every day you play with the light of the universe.”
― Pablo Neruda

Our universe is believed to be 13.82 billion years old and our planet is roughly 4.5 billion years old. The earliest life forms appeared about 3.8 billion years ago. Do these numbers mean anything? Sometimes numbers don’t really answer questions. They make you want to ask more questions instead. Where did it all begin? How did it begin? What was there before the beginning? Who or what created the beginning? And why are we really here?

“Nothing happens until something moves.”
― Albert Einstein

We’re so used to seeing the sun rising and setting everyday that we forget we’re actually riding a giant ball — moving in space. Life on earth can be quite challenging. And maybe there’s a reason for it. Or we’ll all get dizzy with the dangers of falling asteroids and exploding stars. There’s so much going on in an earthly life and there’s not enough time to worry about what’s beyond our narrow field of view.

“The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

But, it’s also not easy to ignore the vast universe that lies beyond us. After all, the diameter of the observable universe is believed to be 92 billion light years (One light year is the distance travelled by light in a year). The universe literally calls out to us. For some of us — it holds hope. For some of us — it’s a passage for escapism. And for some of us, it gives meaning to our banal lives and shows us why ‘life’ is precious no matter how inconsequential it might seem to be.

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
― Carl SaganCosmos

The universe is a like a ginormous crystal ball. It can you show you the passage of  time as you could never imagine it. Every time you spot a distant star — you might as well be looking at a moment that doesn’t exist. And when you look at the countless objects scattered in the vast emptiness of space and try to think of the scale of everything, you realise how small you truly are. It’s a humbling experience like no other. And it makes you appreciate every single bit of life you live, cherish every moment, hold on to every memory, and believe you’re the chosen one. The universe is also the window to our souls. And it shows us how we’re all the same because we all came from the same beginning.

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Writer-Photographer Duo. Now in Seoul.

44 replies on “Hello, Is there anybody out there?

  1. ‘The universe literally calls out to us. For some of us — it holds hope.’ Such a wonderful line. Beautifully written. Hope is what gets us through almost every situation – we hope for a the outcome we want, we work towards it or at least dream it. In the grander scheme of things, our problems sometimes can seem so petty…sometimes if we just appreciate each other, each moment that is true or at least some kind of truth as you alluded to, we’ll all get along better and feel more satisfaction. Amazing photos by Basil. Didn’t know he shot the stars and Milky Way (?) too 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Mabel! 🙂 I always get philosophical around the sky and the stars. Over a decade ago, it was my specialisation in my Master’s programme. And although I’ve left those ‘starry’ dreams far behind, my fascination for the sky sticks on. 🙂 Basil has a similar interest — diverging into extraterrestrial forms of life. He has to watch every alien show or movie that has been made. 🙂 We were lucky to get multiple opportunities to view the the Milky Way. It’s Basil’s first attempt at capturing it and after many failed shots — this one worked. 🙂

  2. Beautiful message, and you know I love all those Mongolian steppe photos! I’m guessing the starry sky photo is from there – wasn’t it amazing to see the Milky Way and all the stars out there with no light pollution at all? It was one of my favorite experiences out on the steppe.

    1. Thanks, Lex! Yep, every photo was clicked in Mongolia! We’ve got so many of them and it’s hard to choose. 🙂 Basil had a tough time capturing it. It got really cold at night and we were literally freezing! The best time was around 10 pm and on rare occasions we took a peek even at 1 am. It’s fantastic! To see it move across the night sky is one of those unforgettable travel experiences!

  3. To be honest, whenever I’m Himalayas trekking and camping under the clear sky…I wonder how insulated our lives in cities are. When you are out in wilderness with just your rucksack, it provides a glimpse of actual life. That human life was meant to live and lead according to elements of nature.

    Frankly, how many urban kids are exposed to millions of twinkling stars in the sky? can’t see it in urban sky!! we are too engrossed in our daily life and agendas!

    1. The Himalayas are a wonderful refuge from city life. Trekking there is on our list! And how I miss them! Sigh! Two years since our trip to Dharamshala.
      Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the milky way in my life. Not even when I went for experiments at GMRT (near Pune) or on our travels in the mountains. I was so happy we got lucky in Mongolia! It’s an unbelievable sight.

      1. You said it well…I have nothing more to add here! There is nothing beyond Himalayas on this side of planet, Cheryl!

  4. The Universe is like a ginormous crystal ball – I like your way of saying this. Doesn’t it feel like we are living in a crystal ball? What if someone else is watching our lives outside this world? Hmm? Interesting ideas here, beautiful photos. Really, nice one. 🙂

    1. I imagined us to be living outside the crystal ball — looking inside. Your interpretation is equally interesting. 🙂 The early theories in astronomy believed the earth to be the centre of everything. Is someone watching over us? That’s the basic premise of faith or hope for ET lovers. 🙂 So glad you liked this post! 🙂

  5. Wonderful rumination on the universe. It is astounding how large it is and how insignificantly tiny we are. Your night sky shot is great along with your other terrific landscapes.

    1. Thank you, Jane. 🙂 Mongolia is fantastic for sky observers. The sky looks vast, especially in the countryside. Basil has started experimenting with photography. I think he’s got a long way to go though. 🙂 Truly appreciate your comment.

      1. Awww! Thanks for making our day, Jane! He will be really be happy with the encouragement. And truly means a lot coming from you! Absolutely love your work!

  6. Such a deep post! I love all the quotes you’ve chosen and I can certainly resonate with them. When I find myself surrounded by beautiful landscape I can realise how insignificant I am, especially close to mountains. I’m so impressed by the picture of the milky way!!!

    1. Thanks, Gin! In Mongolia, I couldn’t quite get over the sky. It was so stunning and the weather changed very quickly (like Iceland). It was Basil’s first attempt at capturing the milky way and he struggled. After 20 shots, this was the only shot that was reasonably clear. And then, I did some picture editing. 🙂

  7. My proposition is that I only know that my brain and my imagination exists and everything else is part of the latter. Nothing else exists except in my imagination. What says you ? You can’t prove me wrong though I might imagine you trying.

  8. Came here from she’s blog – Because I liked the name of your blog – ha – and this post is outstanding – deep pondering of existence and nice quotes with great photos – 😉

  9. Reatheding this post has made me realised that I haven’t really given much thought about my place in the universe although I do think there are others out there. An interesting and thought-provoking post, Cheryl.

    1. Your comment made me smile, Helen. 🙂 I think, the universe makes us question a lot of things. Finding the answers isn’t as important as asking the correct questions. You’re heading on the right track! 🙂

  10. When I contemplate the vastness of the universe my mind truly boggles. Then, when I contemplate the other direction – at the quantum level, it boggles again. Nice quotes, good thoughts, good pics. Of course, now that you’ve seen and photographed the Milky Way you’re going to want to do it again…

    1. I know exactly what you mean. When I think about it, I end up with more questions. 🙂 Observing the Milky Way was the highlight of our trip. 🙂 It was a fantastic experience barring the cold. I know we want to do it again!

  11. What a thought provoking post Cheryl. Indeed, we’re often left with more questions than answers about the Universe, so infinitely fascinating. Wonderful stuff here. 💥✨

    1. How have you been my friend? I’m always happy to see your comment (even before I read it!) ..lol…I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this post. The stars inspire me. They always have. There’s so much hope scattered across the sky. We saw the Milky Way everyday in Mongolia. It was spectacular! I’m sure you would have been equally fascinated! xoxo

      1. Sounds absolutely wonderful Cheryl, I’m sure I would have loved it. Well, this will probably come as no surprise but I’m away camping. A last minute overnight getaway, just Doug and I in our van by a flowing river. The fire’s just been lit for tonight and the birds around us are in full song. Looking forward to a starry night sky. So yes, I’m well. Hope you are too my friend. xo

  12. i loved this post and your quote selection. Especially the Neruda line. I think feeling alone is a consequence of, obvious as it sounds, being alone. Most of us know, I think, that as much as we can have friends and loved ones around us, we’re stuck in our heads alone, our direct experience of the world is solitary, and maybe that’s why finding a common thread that ties all of us together, whether through spirituality or something else, is so important to humans.

    I’d love to see more posts like this one from you.

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