What Carl Sagan meant to me
I suppose it comes as nothing new to you all that Carl Sagan meant a great deal to many people. Not only did he give us knowledge, but a much richer view of the universe – a means of thinking with insatiable curiosity. It was this view that was and continues to remain my guiding light through darkness, in the same way the early Polynesians followed the stars.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with depression. A cloak of darkness followed me everywhere I went. I was living in a small universe, devoid of hope. I even began to consider death. That’s when I found Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I suppose most people turn to religion in these situations. They want to be told god is looking out for them and there is some sort of master plan. But not for me, I was captivated by the way the light shined in his eyes when he talked about the universe. Here was a man who had found his happiness buried in the depths of reality, and to me it was beautiful. Carl gave me a far more enduring perspective of the universe, a universe of such size, vastness, complexity and beauty unable to be conceived by any human mind. I began to look up at the sky instead of walking with my head down. I started to think. My skies were no longer dark and empty but bathed in the light of 4 billion stars. To Carl, just experiencing this universe was an overwhelmingly beautiful experience. Consciousness was beautiful, the fact that I was so willing to give away my life when a man who had wanted nothing more than consciousness had lost his really spoke to me. I wanted not to waste my experience of this universe feeling blue, but I wanted to understand its fabric and carry on his legacy because he no longer could.
Carl Sagan is the kind of person I aspire to be, he was the star that I followed in times of doubt. I apologise for not giving him a beautiful poetic spiel that he so deserves, but there are no words. He is beautiful in every way conceivable, and he quite literally saved me in the most profound way by handing me the universe, and giving me the courage to look at it with my open eyes because you know what they say, in the darkest skies shine the brightest stars.
I’m sure Carl would have been very touched by your words. I know I was. Carl didn’t lead me out of depression, but he did give me a sense of purpose.
Let’s keep on giving the gift he bestowed on us and bring our brothers and sisters to open their eyes to and partake in the beauty of reality.
When people ask about my personal “religion”, I always reply, “Saganism”.