by Audrey Peterman
“An establishing shot is the first shot in a scene that provides an overview of the setting. It is often shot from above as an aerial shot, offering a view from a distance that helps the audience orient themselves to and identify the time and/or location at which the scene is occurring.”
Welcome to the Joy Train, dear passenger!
We are at this moment situated in a far corner of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is whirling among limitless galaxies in a limitless universe. In our small solar system, our sun is the central star for eight major planets, including Earth, that perform an intricate and inexorable dance at phenomenal speeds, one never bumping into another.
On our planet the highest expression of life is the human, nearly eight billion souls. None of us knows how we got here, and none of us knows how or when we will leave. Some people driven to end their lives have had to live anyway, with great disfigurement, shame and grief.
Establishing that every human being is a member of the human race – species Homo sapiens – puts us all at the same level. There is no one higher than another, no one greater, no one more perfect, and no one better. It is true that a small percentage of humans have managed to attach an unnatural amount of the Earth’s resources to themselves, but that does not translate to “better.” It is true that humans’ skin color and pigmentation is different depending upon the continent of their origin, but “race” has long been debunked as a concept and practice designed to empower the least pigmented over the most.
To still be squabbling, hurting and killing people over this meritless idea boggles my mind, at a time when we are seeing increasing evidence that our biosphere is rapidly changing, making it increasingly uncomfortable for us. I cannot understand how so much energy is given to “entertainment” when we could be actively turning it toward healing our biosphere.
If I were a young person born near or since the turn of the 21st Century, I would be confused to the point of madness that adults tell me the world is falling apart and will be its worst for my generation, while doing nothing to avert the crisis. I don’t doubt that a lot of maladies from which we suffer are heightened by the glaring inconsistencies in society between what we say we believe and stand for, and what we actually do.
Hence, the Joy Train.
Being concerned about all the issues I mention, and more, I would be unable to function if I didn’t have my daily establishing shot. When the dark begins to give way to the dawn each morning I wake up and sit on my balcony facing the Blue Mountains over Kingston, Jamaica and wait for the sun to appear. I watch and wait fixated, because I can never take a sunrise for granted. This is my way of reminding myself that I am part of cosmos, part of a vast, undulating dynamic that is directed by some intelligent force. I express my thanks to cosmos and call for its perfect will for mankind to be done.
For the rest of the day I can be carefree and joyful as I pursue my activities, because I know I have engaged the greatest force possible to do the greatest good. I’ve discharged my responsibility as part of the human race.
So the first thing I suggest to passengers on the Joy Train to increase your enjoyment of life is to make a conscious point of connecting with the sunrise every day. As each part of the Earth sees the sun every day except for the poles, it seems the most common, ordinary thing we can do en masse. Make a practice of watching for the first time you see the sun each day, and realize that at that moment it is lighting up an arc of the world with you and millions of other souls under the same light. Hold the feeling of commonality, of your benefactor being a solar giant 92 million, 935 thousand, seven hundred miles away. And our sun never fails.
If you can hold that thought in mind throughout the day – that you are part of something so much larger, that you are infinitesimal in the scheme of things and yet privileged to affect it with your thoughts and actions, you may begin to feel a new stirring. That’s what we’re going for.
I grew up with Desiderata affirming, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.” I’ve believed and practiced that for 70 years in unabashed joy.
The Joy Train is at the station, Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, Cosmos. Let’s take off to enjoy more liberating reminders along the way to our destination – ultimate and renewing Joy!
Choo Choo! Get onboard here.