Orbital

Here’s a neat little thing about orbital mechanics: nothing actually revolves around anything else. Instead, multiple things revolve around each other.

Our mental model of the system of The Earth & The Moon is usually that Earth is stationary, and The Moon rotates around it. But that isn’t true! Even within just the closed system of Earth+Moon (i.e. ignoring other things like the Sun), the center point of that system isn’t the exact center of the Earth.

To get a better idea of what I mean, imagine two planets with the same size and mass spinning around each other. The fact that the center of that system is the middle point in open space between the planets is a little easier to conceptualize, right? As one of the two planets gets bigger, that point in space moves closer to that object, but it will never be in its exact center as long as there’s other mass in the system.

To put this way more simply: anything that a particular object influences via gravity is also influenced by that other thing’s gravity, however small the effect.

You and your life are also such a system. Everything you introduce in your life, however minor, affects both your trajectory and the movement of everything else around you. You are changed by everything. If you have a promising career as a professional athlete in a sport you’re passionate about and you meet the love of your life and want to pursue a family with them, both of those things will be affected by the other. (I’m not saying either will be worse, just that both will be different in some way than they would have been in the absence of the other.)

People have a tendency to sort of act as if this wasn’t true, however. They think that they can keep all the ups & downs within their own “lane” and never have one thing affect the other thing. But even a constant movement affects the rest, so certainly variations do! The Moon’s constant, steady path affects the Earth, so imagine if the Moon had a bunch of sudden stops, accelerations, and direction changes. We couldn’t just say, “oh well, that’s all the way up there, it doesn’t affect us down here.”

The same in your life! If you say, “I really like my life, except I wish this one aspect X was different,” then changing (even improving!) aspect X is going to change other things about your life. Those changes might be positive! But they won’t be zero – so it’s worth stepping back and looking at the system as a whole before you just chuck another moon in there.

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