Happy New Year!

For a while now, “06880” has rung in the new year with an iconic photo: The “blue marble” image of Earth, suspended in space.

Taken by Apollo 17 astronauts in December 1972, for half a century it’s symbolized the beauty and fragility of our planet, and the interconnectedness of us all.

This year, I’m going intergalactic.

In the 5 months since the James Webb Space Telescope beamed its first pictures back to us, the world has been mesmerized.

We thought we knew how vast and amazing the universe is.

Now, we realize, we don’t know the half — or the hundredth, or squintillionth — of it.

Gazing at photos like the one above, we realize how insignificant we truly are. Our planet is just one grain of sand, on an obscure beach, in an out-of-the-way location.

We really don’t matter at all.

Except to us.

Take a look at that photo again.

That landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region in the Carina Nebula. For the first time, we see stars being born.

We look billions of light years into the past. That’s crazy stuff.

So — back here on Earth, in our tiny Zip code in our small state in our big country in our average-sized planet — we have to wonder: What actually matters?

Is it whether the new building in Saugatuck is 5 stories tall, or only 4? Is it a tile mural? Is it the inconvenience of traffic on our roads, or whether certain books should be banned in school libraries, or kept?

The answer is: Yes.

These things matter.

They matter because they are part of our lives here in Westport. Sure, the universe seems endless, we still can’t really conceive of the fourth dimension, and our universe itself may be part of another, “living” life form.

In other words, the Westport — and the world — we know may just be atoms in an infinitely more complex something-or-other.

But all that’s for another day (or time).

Meanwhile, we’re looking for the answers to life out there. But right now, it’s our own lives to lead, right here in “06880.”

Let’s lead them well.

And so … bringing us back to what we know best … here’s that beautiful blue marble, once more.

16 responses to “Happy New Year!

  1. Thomas D. Neilly

    Kindness matters.

  2. Happy New Year 06880 and Dan!

  3. Vanessa Bradford

    Cheers Dan to a New Year! Best!

  4. “We are stardust” is not poetic license. It is a fact. every atom in our being came from the dying throws of a distant star.
    Another way to say this is – You are the universe and the universe is you. So, to answer your question “what matters”…..People like you Dan who recognize we are all connected.

  5. Dan,
    You bring light into each day of our lives. You are a star in our small world. Keep up the good work. We thank you for that. Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year!

  6. Julie Van Norden

    Happy New Year Dan! Thanks for all the interesting emails and keeping us all up to date on our town’s goings-on.

  7. You should change your title to “06880 – Where Westport meets the Universe”

  8. Barbara Sherburne '67

    Wishing you the best of everything in 2023, Dan!

  9. As the others said – we appreciate the wonderful addition you make to our lives – helping us to know what is going on all around us, in this wonderful town. We need someone like you – and you are “there”!

  10. Happy New Year to you and all Westporters. I look forward of another year of entertaining and informative 06880 columns.
    As previously stated, thanks for all you do in our tiny part of the universe Dan

  11. Thanks for posting this, Dan. May 2023 treat you very well.

  12. This is such a beautiful perspective.

  13. Very thoughtful, Dan. Have a year with a great future.

  14. Dermot Meuchner

    Well said Mr. Woog.

  15. Cathryn Morrison

    Good though. Thank you for your thoughtful insights. Happy New Year.

  16. Dan, your concept of earth as the equivalent of a grain of sand reminded me of a sermon I was invited to provide upon my confirmation at age 14 (62 years ago, which places me in the chronology of things) – only your comment is far more articulate. We may think of earth not as a grain of sand, but as a molecule of that grain, perhaps even one segment of a split atom. Or, alternatively, that our planet is a cell, susceptible to attack by a malignancy. If addressed, it may be suppressed. That malignancy may be represented today by the way we treat each other. Equivalently, if corrected, the cancer may go into remission. If not, it may grow and become deadly. It is humbling, which makes everything we do to and for the benefit of our planet and
    humankind all the more significant. Thanks for your high quality blog. How may I contribute to its continuation?

Leave a Reply