A few days ago, one of the Internet (and other media) stories that surfaced...no pun intended...was Mars-rover Curiosity's photo of what some scientists called a "flower" growing from the Martian soil. To me, it should have been the story and photo of all Earthly time. Instead, it got very little "play", as so many items of deep significance get these days. To me, it brought a wellspring of emotion that was only closely-paralleled by Neil Armstrong's first steps on our moon, but, in my opinion, should be mind-boggling to any of us who realize how truly infinitesmally tiny we are and how tiny this planet is in relation to the cosmos.

To me, seeing that little "flower", or whatever vegetation it was, pushing its way through the Martian surface, illustrated the gargantuan reckoning that, again in my opinion, we should never be conceited enough to think we're the only creatures who inhabit the vast and ever-expanding universe. Although fictional, the film "E.T." may have mirrored the gentleness of "little green creatures" who may (definitely?) exist somewhere "out there". That brave little Martian "flower", although not a creature, does indicate moisture below the surface that would allow growth of that ilk and inspire as many people as possible to applaud its emergence.

Back-story: My true professional passion in  life, from the time I could speak, was to be an astronomer. My mother dissuaded me from that goal, stating, "Astronomers don't make any money". Having been discouraged by her to not pursue that goal, broadcasting, show business and meteorology became my professional bents. I learned much later in life that some astronomers DO make more than average incomes. Regardless, every time I look at a clear night sky, the  fascination with the heavens is still there, more than seven decades since I first expressed them to my mother.

It's no great revelation to anyone who's ever been even remotely schooled in subjects akin to the universe that the light traveling from either the stars or planets probably left those celestial bodies before the Earth was even formed. Light traveling at 186,000 miles per second, times 60, times 60, times 24, times 365 equals just one light year. Try to do the math. Good luck. There's no room for all those zeros on almost any except the most sophisticated calculators.

To me, one of the strongest antidotes to not take ourseleves too seriously, about almost anything, simply exists by looking to the stars and planets each clear night, remembering we and our planet are tiny cogs in a very large wheel. Bravo and brava to that little "flower" on Mars for its humbling exclamation point reminding us about who and what we all really are.

Thanks for taking the time to read my geezer thoughts in this space, and, if you're so inclined, please view my SENIOR MOMENT webcasts at www.startribune.com/video.





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Brief Mars "flower" blog comments, plus some Reverend Jesse Jackson memories on this MLK, Jr. holiday weekend of remembrance