“[B]y changing the frame, you radically change the range of possibilities.” ~ Tina Seelig, InGenius

Earthrise

Today marks the 45th anniversary of a view of Earth that changed forever how we think about our home planet. The year was 1968, and the world had just gone through twelve months of extreme unrest—the Tet Offensive, assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and protests throughout the globe that often ended in violence. “Beautiful” was certainly not the first word that came to most people’s minds when they reflected back on the year that was.

Then, on Christmas Eve, Apollo 8 astronauts took a series of photographs from their orbit around the moon that, to borrow a phrase from Tina Seelig, author of InGenius, changed the frame.

In Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth, Robert Poole recounts the astronauts’ reactions to their new frame of reference for their distant home:

  • Frank Borman, Apollo 8’s commander:  “It was the most beautiful, heart-catching sight of my life, one that sent a torrent of nostalgia, of sheer homesickness, surging through me.”
  • James Lovell: “It was the most beautiful thing there was to see in all the heavens. People down here don’t realize what they have.”
  • Bill Anders: “a very fragile looking Earth, a very delicate looking Earth”

Opening our eyes to our world’s simultaneous beauty and fragility, “Earthrise” has been called “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” How often are we in need of a similar new perspective on ourselves or our problems? As we look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014, we can ask ourselves what we are not seeing, and how we can step back or to the side so as to change the frame.

More: Learn how the Earthrise photo was made.