8.8 Billion Earth-Like Planets

I knew it! Well, at least I presumed it.

I read in the paper a few days ago that there are billions of planets in the Milky Way Galaxy that are in the “Goldilocks Zone” – not too hot and not too cold.

Milky WayAstronomers, using NASA data, calculated that there are at least 8.8 billion planets in our galaxy alone that could be habitable. 8.8 billion “throws of the biological dice.” That’s more chances than there are people on Earth that there is life somewhere else out there.

I’ve never been opposed to the idea that there are other worlds with other human-like creatures. In fact, I’ve always had this fantasy that God has several (hundreds, thousands, millions, billions?) experiments going on galaxy-wide. Which of my creations is going to make it work, is going to figure out that the secret to survival is loving and caring for every single living thing? I picture him up there applying different circumstances, different strategies for all of his planet creations, trying to determine which are the most effective in getting through to us. I have no doubt that God could be managing billions of lives on billions of planets.

And even if there isn’t a god involved, it certainly seems plausible that a cosmic number of these planets that are similar to Earth once had life, now support living creatures, or are nearing the time when life will emerge, when evolution will begin.

What are your thoughts? Is there life somewhere other than here on Earth?

2:00 A.M. Prayer


And who might Neale Donald Walsch be? Neale Donald Walsch (born September 10, 1943) is an American author of the series Conversations with God. The nine books in the complete series are Conversations with God (books 1-3), Friendship with God, Communion with God, The New Revelations, Tomorrow’s God, What God Wants and Home with God: In a Life That Never Ends. He is also an actor, screenwriter, and speaker.

I haven’t read any of his books, but this works for me. I have conversations with God. Usually in the middle of the night, lying awake, knowing that if I use the time to pray I will:

  • calm down immediately from whatever stressful thing woke me up in the first place
  • get in way more praying than I would if I tried to find time to do it during the hectic waking hours
  • gain insight into something (who knows what, but something, whatever it is that God thinks I need at that time).

Somehow this daily writing idea came about when I was talking to God. I was asking, imploring, for ideas on how better to contribute to the world. It had to be something I was good at and something I liked to do. Something I could squeeze into my day. You know, something that wouldn’t be too difficult. I’m not sure that’s the way it works though, that my longing to do something significant will be satisfied with a quick fix, something easy, not too time consuming, something that doesn’t stretch my imagination, require tons of energy, and cut into my own selfish little life.

Okay. Pause. Let me glorify who I am today. It’s not that I’m not contributing. I’m a teacher, and a highly committed and conscientious one at that. I’ve truly cared about every student over the past 22 years. Worked hard every day to make sure every one of them learned to read to the best of his or her ability while in my charge. Laid awake at night when any one of them struggled or was hurting, and there were several every year, it’s just the way it is. Researched, read, thought up and tried new approaches. Perfected my methodology. Wrote two books so I could share what I knew worked and worked well. Hoped to build an entirely new set of expectations for young learners and help teachers discover just how to get children to meet these standards.

I’m also a mom. Proud of the mom I am, as a whole. Not proud of everything I’ve said or done, but pretty happy about most of it. A tireless, completely committed mom. A mom who has always been grateful for the opportunity to parent. A mom who doesn’t want God or anyone, especially her own children, to question her commitment to this incredibly important task.

Of course, I want to write more books. I have ideas. I don’t feel particularly talented with writing, but I do feel that I have ideas to share, ideas that are maybe supposed to be shared, in the area of education. And I like to write. Technical writing is something I’m good at; it comes easily. So, I think, maybe I’m supposed to write another book. Maybe that’s how I can contribute.

Or maybe I’m supposed to write something else. Something that stretches me, that’s difficult. Time-consuming if done even partway correctly. Uncomfortable. Disappointing, even. Maybe just disappointing at first. Until I practice, learn, grow, improve. That’s why I’m doing this. This daily writing, this style that does not come easily. This mess that will always beg for me to come back again, work on certain phrases, break out of the boring, discover, maybe, hopefully, how to lay down words in a way that makes people (how about just me?) feel, smile, laugh, cry.

I read. Man, do I love to read. I’d say I’m a voracious reader, but not a fast reader. I love books too much—sentences, phrases, words, styles of writing–to rush through them, to finish them, to have to put them away and move on. I savor anything that’s well written. Pick it up, cradle it, feel it out, turn it over and over, in my mind, off my tongue. Listen to the beauty of words. Their impact. The way they can change a person’s thinking, even change the person herself.

That’s what I want to be able to do. Put words down in a way that will make people take note. Pause. Think. Find beauty and meaning and truth, all because of the score of the words, the arrangement. I can’t write like this. I’ve never been taught, never attempted to learn. Even shied away from it, since it doesn’t come naturally. I’m only a technical writer. Others may call me a writer, think I’m a real writer. “Oh, she’s written a couple of books. She’s a writer. An author.” But, I know better. I may be a writer of a certain type of book, but there’s more I want to do, more that I need to do. Sometimes I think that if only I could get words down in a way that could significantly impact others, or even just myself, get myself to think and pause and take note, then maybe I could make a difference. A bigger difference. A better difference.

Perhaps I will discover it now that I’m writing on a regular basis. How to write. What my contribution can be. Or maybe I’ll discover something else.

It’s not difficult for me to glorify who I am today. I like myself, for the most part. Sure, I want to be better. There’s plenty of room for improvement. I’m not unhappy by any means; in fact, I’m quite happy. Just always searching, striving to do more. Live more, live better. Use every minute. Contribute. Accomplish. And I really must glorify who I am today. If I don’t, I won’t find the will to try harder. I’ll give up. Give in. I need to feel good, special, worthy. And I do. This will help me continue. Continue to write. Keep trying to get better.

God, pay me no mind, at least not too much. I know my case is not pressing. But I also know you’ll be there anyway. I know talking with you and opening my heart up to you will give me strength. Help me to realize that by focusing on what I can give, that by trying to realize my strengths and then put them to use, that I will have plenty to write about, plenty to share, and contributions to make. I pray that I can find my purpose. I trust you, God. I know you will speak to me somehow, sometime.