Standing in the Sky

“You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us. With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world. At this moment, you are breathing some of the same molecules once breathed by Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Anne Bradstreet, or Colette. Inhale deeply. Think of The Tempest. Air works the bellows of our lungs, and it powers our cells. We say “light as air,” but there is nothing lightweight about our atmosphere, which weighs 5,000 trillion tons. Only a clench as stubborn as gravity’s could hold it to the earth; otherwise it would simply float away and seep into the cornerless expanse of space.”

~ Diane Ackerman, from A Natural History of the Senses (library)