A few years ago, I was on a boat to one of the small islands in Howe Sound, just off the coast from Vancouver. As I took in the mountains on the mainland rising up out of the ocean, the islands, and the multi-hued blues and greens around me, I had an overwhelming sense of being “home.”
This is the territory I have spent most of my life in (though not in Howe Sound specifically), but that day it sunk in in a new way that, for all the changes around here during my lifetime, there is a familiarity tied to place that orients me in the world.
Jill Tartar is an astronomer and one of the founders of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. She was also the inspiration for Jodi Foster’s character in the film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel Contact.
She invites her students to call themselves earthlings, because it locates us as a species on a particular planet.
There is a psychological strength that comes from being grounded in wherever (or whatever) one thinks of as “home.” Just as a written story has a setting, so do our lived stories.
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