In Light-Years There's No Hurry
Cosmic Perspectives on Everyday Life
A New Scientist Best Popular Science Book of 2023
How seeing Earth through the eyes of an astronaut brings new wonder and meaning to life on our planet.
One stifling summer night, the poet and journalist Marjolijn van Heemstra lay awake, unable to sleep--like so many of us feeling anxious and alienated, deeply exhausted yet restless. Amid the suffocating stream of daily obligations, the clamor of notifications and increasingly dismal headlines, she longed for a way to rise above the frenzy, for a renewed sense of meaning and connection. Then she learned about the overview effect--a permanent shift in consciousness many astronauts experience when beholding Earth from outside the atmosphere--and wondered: could the perspective of outer space offer the internal space she sought?
The lyrical account of van Heemstra's yearlong quest to experience the overview effect on Earth, In Light-Years There's No Hurry invites us to lift our gaze above eye level and discover our connections with the cosmos, our planet, and each other. We follow as van Heemstra's cosmic awareness expands and she finds herself feeling simultaneously lighter and more grounded. Compared with the complexity of the universe, daily life on Earth begins to seem more manageable, while understanding the improbability of our collective existence gives her new patience and tenderness for her neighbors. The grand rhythms of light-years and eons become a source of restoration and relief--a comforting, necessary reminder to slow down and zoom out.
Contemplating the solace a cosmic perspective offers in our chaotic, divided world, In Light-Years There's No Hurry is a moving meditation on what it is to be human amid the vastness of the universe.
About this Author
Marjolijn van Heemstra is a poet, novelist, playwright, and space reporter for the Dutch news organization De Correspondent. The award-winning author of three collections of poetry and a novel, van Heemstra lives in Amsterdam.
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