A Bigger Picture


Often, we can be so immersed (pun intended), or simply so close to and involved with, ‘our’ pet subject or passion – that even if we do ask the obvious questions, we can’t always ‘see’ the answer from where we are ‘standing’.
To get those sorts of answers and solutions we need to be able to change our perspective – our point of view.

Often, we need to stand right back and see if we can get a look at THE BIGGER PICTURE….
Only then do we get to see the answers we were looking for.

Of course, we have to be the sort of person who asks questions – but that’s another story.

“It had been known for a long time that Yellowstone was volcanic in nature—that’s what accounted for all its geysers and other steamy features—and the one thing about volcanoes is that they are generally pretty conspicuous. But Christiansen couldn’t find the Yellowstone volcano anywhere.”

“Most of us, when we think of volcanoes, think of the classic cone shapes of a Fuji or Kilimanjaro, which are created when erupting magma accumulates in a symmetrical mound…. Altogether there are some ten thousand of these intrusively visible volcanoes on Earth, all but a few hundred of them extinct. “

“Some volcanoes are so explosive that they burst open in a single mighty rupture, leaving behind a vast subsided pit, the caldera (from a Latin word for cauldron).”

“Yellowstone obviously was of this second type, but Christiansen couldn’t find the caldera anywhere.

By coincidence just at this time NASA decided to test some new high-altitude cameras by taking photographs of Yellowstone, copies of which some thoughtful official passed on to the park authorities on the assumption that they might make a nice blow-up for one of the visitors’ centres.”

“As soon as Christiansen saw the photos, he realised why he had failed to spot the caldera: virtually the whole park—2.2 million acres—was a caldera.”

Image credit: USGS

“The explosion had left a crater more than forty miles across—much too huge to be perceived from anywhere at ground level.”

“At some time in the past Yellowstone must have blown up with a violence far beyond the scale of anything known to humans.”

Image credit: National Park Service

“Yellowstone, it turns out, is a super volcano. It sits on top of an enormous hot spot, a reservoir of molten rock that rises from at least 125 miles down in the Earth.”

Changing our perspective often means we change our point of view too.

From time to time it’s worth just stepping back.

NOTE: Bill Bryson is one of my favourite writers. His ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ is up there in my top 3 re-reads. I hope he doesn’t mind that I have lifted much of the above word for word from his account of the same in a Short History… Or that I have taken the liberty of highlighting sections for emphasis and adding graphics.  What else can I say? He recounts this sort of stuff so well.

Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything on Amazon or Waterstones