There is a really good piece in Variety about William Shatner’s experience going to space for real.
I continued my self-guided tour and turned my head to face the other direction, to stare into space. I love the mystery of the universe. I love all the questions that have come to us over thousands of years of exploration and hypotheses. Stars exploding years ago, their light traveling to us years later; black holes absorbing energy; satellites showing us entire galaxies in areas thought to be devoid of matter entirely… all of that has thrilled me for years… but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold . . . all I saw was death.
While I haven’t been to space, I experienced this same feeling while watching Space Explorers on the Oculus Quest 2. If you’re unfamiliar with Space Explorers, it’s a documentary filmed in VR from the International Space Station. Not only do you get to roam around in the ISS, but you get to go outside the ISS. Looking down at Earth is the most amazingly beautiful things you will ever see. Looking out towards the blackness of space was truly terrifying. Nothing ever made me feel more unsettled in my life, and I was just watching an immersive video. I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience the real thing, but Shatner but it into words so eloquently. There is hope though. It makes you appreciate the planet we do have.
It can change the way we look at the planet but also other things like countries, ethnicities, religions; it can prompt an instant reevaluation of our shared harmony and a shift in focus to all the wonderful things we have in common instead of what makes us different. It reinforced tenfold my own view on the power of our beautiful, mysterious collective human entanglement, and eventually, it returned a feeling of hope to my heart. In this insignificance we share, we have one gift that other species perhaps do not: we are aware—not only of our insignificance, but the grandeur around us that makes us insignificant. That allows us perhaps a chance to rededicate ourselves to our planet, to each other, to life and love all around us. If we seize that chance.