For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with astronomy – “the study of the sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, gas, galaxies, dust, and other non-Earthly bodies and phenomenon,” as defined by the website Space.com. How anyone cannot feel a profound sense of wonder when one gazes at the night sky filled with stars and the moon, or consider the incredible power of the sun still so amazingly far away from us, is beyond me. And to ponder one’s place among all of this, well, that’s a question many of us spend a lifetime considering, whether as part of our religious affiliation or by way of our spiritual perspective and practices.
But wait a minute, you say … why would someone who has Psychology and Sociology degrees and works in Corporate Learning and Development be so enthralled with astronomy? Well, it’s easy, really … One of the things that calls astronomers to their field is their draw to search for meaning and even order to the universe we live in, and what may even lie beyond it. Don’t forget – I’m also a meaning in work/identity researcher, so how we construe meaning in our world, and everything we do, is of profound interest to me.
Beyond that simple connection with meaning, my education also trained me to be a systems thinker, so I am really intrigued with how the parts of anything interrelate to the larger whole and how systems work within larger systems – the interconnectivity of things. So, in particular the sub-field of astronomy called cosmology is specifically of interest to me, because its focus is on the entire universe from birth (considered by many including myself to be the Big Bang) to its eventual end. Think of the myriad of systems that connect and intertwine for those events to take place! Think of the interrelationship of the solar system, the photosynthesis system, precipitation systems, and the lunar system – and its fantastic influence on ocean tides, to name only a few.
Cosmology also tends to consider the “large-scale properties of the universe and esoteric, invisible and sometimes purely theoretical things like string theory, dark matter and dark energy, and the notion of multiple universes,” as cited by Space.com. I am hopelessly intrigued with the idea that while our senses and brain are incredible features of our humanity, they nonetheless serve as limitations to our ability to sense or “know” things beyond our current state of evolved development – and this is a hopelessly intriguing, limitless potential learning opportunity for our hopefully not-too-distant futures. You see the learning and development connection here, yes?
I often finish the day reading to my 5th grade daughter. One of our favorite topics for night-time is astronomy, and she seems as hooked as I am (though her favorite subject in school right now is Math – with Science a close second). Professionally, I consider my field to be Human Capital, and my aim is to be a catalyst to my clients to help them self-actualize and realize their truest and deepest potential. Astronomy, to me, represents everything about potential – the potential of what we could learn about ourselves, how we’re connected (or not) to other universes, and the very manner in which we interpret the world around us. If that doesn’t smack of “learning and development,” I simply do not know what does.