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Like people on the Moon I see, are things not meant to be.
– James Taylor

When a rocket leaves its orbit in space and returns to Earth, it is referred to as re-entry. Before landing, the spaceship must first negotiate the planet’s atmosphere, the nebulous cloak which provides breath for Earth’s inhabitants and gentle protection from direct contact with the Sun’s powerful rays. Beyond this second skin, outside the Kármán line, the ambiguous boundary one hundred kilometers from Earth, lies the vastness of space.

Departure and return are not easy. The struggle to break free of Earth’s embrace is costly – the planet holds on tightly to her own. Re-entry is also demanding. As descent through the atmosphere begins, the spaceship is captured by Earth’s possessive gravitational pull. Free fall is countered by friction created at the interface of ship and air. The heat and noise are awesome. [2]

Surviving this radical transition from space to Earth, astronauts assert, depends almost completely on attitude, the appropriate angle of descent which is about forty degrees. [3] The same might be said about the radical shift that the entire planet is experiencing today.

Humanity has also sought to free itself from Earth’s reaching pull and connection. For millennia, our species has striven to be in orbit, unattached and unattending, in the space of separation. Lift-off succeeded, but soon fuel, literally and spiritually, ran out. We have now begun an unintended descent back to Earth and are experiencing the tearing tension of re-entry.

During the descent, the meeting of minds has become sharp and shredded, relationships worn and frayed from the friction of fear, uncertainty, and mistrust. We are enveloped in the roar of reintegration. To survive, humans must find and adopt the appropriate attitude. But, what does the angle of forty degrees translate to in terms of human re-entry?

The answer is quite simple: being Nature. Being Nature entails peeling away the perceptual, psychological, ethical, and physical barriers which have been erected to create the delusion of separation from Animal, Plant, and other Nature, including fellow human beings. Stripped of these maladaptive dramas and dreams of future and past, we emerge into the present, “in between what might have been and what has come to pass.” [1] By being present, in full contact with each moment, we experience awakening from a seductive, but dysfunctional, dream. The great unhappiness gripping humans everywhere is the grief of non-acceptance, the loss of what we thought could be, but is not.

By aligning our attitude with Nature, our rhythms take on the cadence of the seasons and subtleties of the ebb and flow of change of which we are an inextricable part. Cooling relief pours over the heat of despair as we land and sink into the roots of life, into Nature’s stillness. We discover that during all this time spent in empty orbit, the Animals and Trees have been waiting, waiting and willing us home.

Learn More

[1] Taylor, J. 1971.  Long ago and far away. Retrieved from
[2] Clark, S. 2020. Dragon astronauts describe sounds and sensations of return to Earth Spaceflight Now. Retrieved from
[3] McGrath, J. 2021. How Do Spacecraft Re-enter the Earth’s Atmosphere?  How Stuff Works. Retrieved from

Photo credit: Erwan Hesry


~ Dedicated to Tommy ~

Mariposa Reflections is a weekly e-post paired with Mariposa Meditations, a biweekly online Nature mindfulness and meditation gathering. Sign up here to receive weekly Mariposa Reflections. Learn more and register for Mariposa Meditations here.