Clarity Of Distance

A photograph clicked on Christmas Eve, 1968 reminds me of the stellar virtues of clarity of distance. A clarity that helps see far more than whats on display.

“You got a colour flim Jim?
Hand me that roll of color quick, would you..”

Thats the simple conversation that preceded the spectacular snap. A conversation that was commonplace in an era preceding the digital camera era.

The result, a spectacular picture that later came to be known as Earthrise. A picture of the Earth, captured by astronauts Wiliam Anders from the surface of the moon.

Here’s a line from the wikientry for Earthrise: On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission in 2018, Anders stated:

“It really undercut my religious beliefs. The idea that things rotate around the pope and up there is a big supercomputer wondering whether Billy was a good boy yesterday? It doesn’t make any sense. I became a big buddy of [atheist scientist] Richard Dawkins.”

Over the years, the photograph has become iconic for it reminds me, amongst other things, the fraglity of Eath and the need for us to take care of it. When I see it used by conservationists, I remind myself that the picture that spurs us into action on the ground beneath is taken thousands from of miles away! In fact, it comes from the surface of the moon. Talk about disatnce!

The Clarity of Distance

The busy humdrum of everyday life gives us little opportunity to think about how we are living it! Over the last few months, one of the most imporatnt lessons I have learnt (again) is the relvance of going inwards and the power of silence. Distancing ourselves from our everyday life helps us see it in better light.


All help. Importantly, they help bringing about clarity on the life we lead. That’s how it

Silence brings awareness of paterns. Both of the promising and the disturbing variety. Whenever I speak of silence I notice how initimadating it is for people. It needn’t be. I am not speaking of Viaasana but the act of conscious reflection by going inwards.

When we do, we become present to whats happening within. We become aware of shifting contexts.

For the last few months, I have also had other elements to help with the silence. Those have been writing, walking and pursuing activities device free.

All have left me with a bunch of thoughs and ideas. And a reinforced belief in clarity of distance.

Even as I state this, I am well aware that action is deeply entrenched in our daily life as a default preference. It is prized and celebrated and any suggestion of silence and reflection invites quizzical looks if not downright dismissal. I can unequivocally state that action guided by reflection and silence has substantially augmented strength.



I can’t write about Earthrise, and the clarity of distance it brings to me, without Carl Sagan’s commentary on the Pale Blue Dot. By the way, If this isnt powerful enough to set context for the time ahead, I don’t know what will. 🙂


“I want clarity”. The CEO said mildly. This was the first meeting after some intense brainstorming and data gathering that the team had been at.

They thought they were very close to defining what the problem was. They wanted to check in with the CEO and his reports. Because, there simply wasn’t one version of the problem. The subject line to the meeting said : “Identifying the scope of challenge X”

Bright yellow and green sticky notes fluttered on whiteboard with hesitation. Like trapeze artists hanging by a thread and waiting for applause after a performance. Everyone’s eyes were on the CEO who wore speed and execution as his medals of honour. He spoke about them a lot. His impatience showed. In this meeting too.

“It isn’t clear”, he said. “I want clarity”. He said. Again. “Total clarity”. He cleared his throat. There was silence in the room like clean air before a thunderstorm.

And then it poured.

“This is hazy. When we are starting? What are the milestones? What is going to happen in two months time? Have you thought about the risks involved? How much is it going to bear the cost overrun? How do we manage the board?…”

Like a lazy machine gun puncturing the guts of stunned passers by there was regular noise for sometime. Enthusiasm slopped dead on the floor.

And then came some mumbo-jumbo about staying positive and that the team can do anything that it chose to do, if only they gave it their all.Steve Jobs was invoked. Jeff Bezos was quoted.

To wrap it all up, the CEO looked at the senior most member and said, “Clarity. The next presentation, there has to be clarity”. The senior most man, a much decorated man wearing many a medal of obedience”, nodded his head. A tight stiff nod.

In an astounding flourish, he turned to the group, and said, “any questions?” Every head pointed to the floor.

Except one.

A young lady put her hand up. Surprised, the CEO said, “Shoot”, he said. Mildly irritated that his “Any questions” was treated as a question and not as a notification to end the meeting.

“Sir, I get all your questions. We have ground to cover and hard work to do”, she demurred. The CEO nodded. His grimace flirted with a mild grin.

“It is an inspiring session with you sir. You must spend more time with us and inspire us sir”. The grimace was getting weaker. The grin steadier.

And then, she looked straight into his eye, and said, “remind us again sir, WHY are we doing this project?” She had made her move and put a bullet between the eye of the man.

That one bullet was louder than the torrent of machine gun fire. And to ensure the bullet did its job, she shot twice more. “The real why. And other whys”.

Her bullets found their mark. There was clarity all around. That evening, she left. Without a word.