All quotes from Russell Schweickart’s

It’s a machine; so are we.

You’ve played a part in a changing concept of man and what life is all about. A relationship that you have assumed all these years—and not just you, but man, humanity, the whole of history has assumed: that relationship to a planet which is now changed.

You identify with Houston, and then you identify with Los Angeles, and Phoenix, and New Orleans, and everything. And the next thing you recognize in yourself is: you’re identifying with North Africa. You look forward to that, you anticipate it. And there it is. And that whole process begins the shift of what it is you identify with. When you go around [the Earth] in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing! And that makes a change.

You can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you cross, again and again and again. And you don’t even see them. And that wake-up scene, the year before, there you are—hundreds of people killing each other over some imaginary line that you’re not even aware of, that you can’t see. And from where you see it, the thing is a whole, and it’s so beautiful. And you wish you could take one in each hand and say, “Look!” You know? One from each side. “Look at it from this perspective! Look at that! What’s important?”

And now he looks back, and he sees the Earth not as something big where he can see the beautiful details, but now he sees the Earth as a small thing out there. And now that contrast between that bright blue and white Christmas tree ornament and that black sky, that infinite universe, really comes through. And the size of it, the significance of it—it becomes both things. It becomes so small and so fragile, and such a precious little spot in that universe that you can block out with your thumb. And you realize that on that small spot, that little blue and white thing, is everything that means anything to you. All of history and music and poetry and art and war and death and birth and love, tears, joy, games—all of it on that little spot out there that you can cover with your thumb. And you realize that that perspective has… that you’ve changed. That there’s something new there. That relationship is no longer what it was.

And you recall standing out there at the spectacle that went before your eyes. Because now you’re no longer inside something with a window, looking out at a picture. But now you’re out there. And what you’ve got around your head is a goldfish bowl, and there are no limits to it. There are no frames, there are no boundaries. You’re really out there, over it, floating, going 25,000 miles an hour, ripping through space, in a vacuum. And there’s not a sound. There’s a silence the depth of which you’ve never experienced before, and that silence contrasts so markedly with the scenery of what you’re seeing, and the speed with which you know you’re going, intellectually, in your head.

It comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for man. You look down and you see all that surface of that globe that you’ve lived on all this time, and you know all those people down there, and they are like you, they are you—and somehow you represent them. You are up there as the sensing element, that point out on the end. And that’s a humbling feeling. It’s a feeling that says you have a responsibility. It’s not for yourself. You have to somehow—the eye that doesn’t see does not do justice to the body. That’s why it’s there. That’s why you’re out there. And somehow you recognize that you’re a piece of this total life. And you’re out on that forefront, and you have to bring that back somehow. And that becomes a rather special responsibility. And it tells you something about your relationship with this thing we call life. And so that’s a change. That’s something new. And when you come back there’s a difference in that world now. There’s a difference in that relationship between you and that planet, and you and all those other forms of life on that planet, because you’ve had that kind of experience. And it’s a difference. And it’s so precious.

It’s you. It’s us. It’s we. It’s life that’s had that experience.