yugen | yoo’gen | noun (Japanese). An awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and mysterious for words.

I work a lot. Like many. I do it for lots of reasons – to get ahead in my career, to make money, because it’s expected, blah blah blah blah.

And while I’m very passionate about what I do and know at the end of each day that I’m okay with the sacrifices I’ve made, I still feel every now and then a sort of heaviness – where I start second-guessing the validity of my choices, and doubting myself. I imagine everyone gets it. I call it “burnout”.

If you haven’t seen this already, it’s a composite of NGC 224 (the Andromeda Galaxy) sized against the Moon and lit to be as bright. I came across this browsing on Reddit, and spent a long time looking at it.

Without further ado, I give you my happy place. My serenity. My yugen:

Source: Slate.com. This image was created by Tom Buckley-Houston, who composited a photo (moon and background) by Stephen Rahn with a NASA/JPL-Caltech image of Andromeda. Credit also goes to Reddit user SniperWolfX117, who reposted the image with the caption “yugen”.

I love space and astronomy. There’s something transcendent about looking up and seeing things infinitely bigger than yourself. This picture captures that feeling so perfectly – to think that there’s an entire galaxy, wider than our Moon, there in the sky if we could see it. I wonder what life would be like if we could see Andromeda in our night sky. Or if the Earth had rings. I wonder how the world and our ways of thinking would be different.

One could say it can make you feel small and insignificant, but I really don’t see it that way. I look at this picture and see possibility. The literally unlimited potential of humankind (and by extension, myself). I look at this picture and want to strive for improvement. To be someone who makes change; that maybe is included in the history of this pale blue dot; for someone far from now to look back on. Hopefully with a shred of dignity and honor.

I look at this picture, and the worries and problems that threaten to overwhelm me seem…not so overwhelming anymore.



Written for the Daily Post photo challenge: Serenity.