Clark Street Bridge, “Looking Back”

FCB Chicago

It was in 1989, in what we now know was just the first phase of the Voyager II mission. Voyager II, the incredibly persistent, precise spacecraft, whose 12-year mission would take it past Jupiter in 1979. And Saturn in 1981. And finally on to Neptune in 1989. And just before it was meant to leave our solar system, just before it was meant to retire into a pleasant life in the cosmos, studying ultraviolet sources among the stars… just as it was about to do that, the people of Nasa couldn’t resist. They sent a signal to Voyager II. And they turned the camera completely around so that Voyager II was traveling forwards, looking backwards. Over its shoulder. And looking back, they took a picture of Earth. A small blue dot in a single beam of sunlight. And that, should anyone ever ask you, is the definition of art. And at the time, nobody asked why they turned the camera around. But should anyone ever ask you, they turned the camera around not for science, but for the same reason when your parents dropped you off on your first day of school, you wanted to be brave and start off on a new adventure. But you couldn’t resist. You looked back. Over your shoulder. And you took a picture of that moment. That’s why the people of Nasa turned the camera around. They couldn’t resist. They had to see what home looked like so far away from home. And that, should anyone ever ask, is what defines us. SUPER: Clark Street Bridge SUPER: A School of Writing