- Stasis. Silence. Darkness. Cold. (How cold is nothingness?
Cold, but there is no way and no one to gauge it, so it's probably comfortable
to the entity that IS nothingness, and in such a universe, everything.
In the Absolute Zero of deepest, darkest space, it might think, "Hmm,
a little chilly." Or, "Cool!" The one thing it didn't think
was "Mmm, just right," because we all know that there is no nothingness,
there is a whole bunch of something strewn across the sky. Which leads
to the timeless question ....)
- Did it always exist or did it suddenly happen? Was there
ever nothingness or did something suddenly occur?
- I love the Big Bang theory. Planck time. The universe
expanded to approximately its present size in less than a millionth of
a second. Now that's what I call inflation! Of course we don't know how
big the universe really is, or if it ends at all. Therefore it seems logically
ludicrous to theorize a beginning when we can't authentically postulate
- We do know that all organisms are born and die. And we
know from the parable of the fish who can't see above the surface of the
lake that there is likely more to the universe than can be seen by our
eyes or perceived by our brains.
- But I'm getting ahead of myself. Because we see all these
wailing starts and whimpering ends, and our mode of comprehending natural
puzzles is to tend to anthropomorphize everything (like turning stars into
gods and houseplants into imaginary beings we talk to - and damn if they
don't grow better when you do that), we naturally figment a beginning -
that Big Ole Bang - and an end - called Heat Death - to this starry potpourri
we call the Universe.
- Thus, with our limited understanding, we contemplate
- I love the winter sky at night, and over the years have
memorized the names of many of the stars in it. The regal hieroglyph named
Orion the mighty Hunter chases the Seven Sisters of the shimmering Pleiades
across the night, a timeless projection of human behavior writ large upon
the sky, all enveloped by the majestic Medicine Wheel, which starts at
Sirius and arcs northward to Capella, like the giant hand of a caring chaperone
shepherding celestial lovers.
- A surprising visitor to the Medicine Wheel this winter
is the radiant planet Saturn, old Father Time himself, settled in right
next to the twins, Castor and Pollux, an uncharacteristically prominent
place in the ethereal pattern of things. Though I'm no soothsayer, I definitely
perceive an omen in this portentous placement in the heavens. Something
momentous is about to happen, and it involves all the time of recorded
history, happening now right before our eyes.
- Surveying the wonder of the sparkling firmament, a single
question invariably forms, creeping up my spine like some cold lizard.
"Why? Why should all this beauty have come to exist at all."
- Throughout my years of skywatching I have always received
the same answer, and doubtless always will. From amid the distant quasars
and shooting stars comes the soft whisper. "I created the universe
with a wish, because I was lonely."
- Then I go inside and sip my hot chocolate with comfort
and joy. I know for certain that no force ever would have put us here for
any bad reason. And even though, in the inexplicably cruel tumult that
is the world of men, there is much horror to regret, I know this life is
the quintessential gift in all the universe, and I give thanks for the
chance to live it.
- Therefore, what has been given to me I would give to
others. It is both the nature of the gift and the secret of real power.
The dearest thing in life is something to be given away, because that is
how you nurture the flower that gave you life, that lonesome wish in the
darkness that created all these exploding suns and teeming seas that sustain
our state of grace, our being, our somethingness.
- That we choose to misuse this gift is not the problem
of the universe, which has sought, literally from time immemorial only
to create conditions perfect for our happiness. The benificent Sun and
his faithful daughter Mother Nature provide all that living creatures need
to thrive on this Eden planet of our dreams. For all but one creature,
who, upon receiving the great gifts of reflection and abstraction, chose
to see the forest as potential plywood.
- And so it may be that in our manic quest for self-possession
we will destroy ourselves and all we covet. That in the terror of our own
demise that we will go extinct and play no part in the future evolution
of the greater universe.
- Sure, it is to be regretted that we couldn't be happy
realizing that our lives were given to us only on loan from the universe.
It is a lease arrangement, you see, that no living thing can break. Not
even the stars themselves are exempt from it.
- But this is no reason not to be thankful - most profoundly
respectful - for the amazing gifts we HAVE been given. That we have chosen
not to use them wisely is no one's fault but our own, yet even this provides
reasons for gratitude, in the hope that our ugly lesson will serve as an
example for wiser species to come not to fall into the same traps of inventing
deities rather than respecting the real one, and thinking in our preposterous
hubris that we could create a world better than the one that was given
to us by the sacred fates and elements, by the eternally graceful rhythm
of the stars and the seas that we chose to ignore and disparage.
- So that's your beginning. On the timescale of the greater
universe, the time it takes to begin to think about raising your finger
and striking a key on this keyboard encompasses all of human history, past
and future - from the flint that caused the first spark that ignited the
first bit of kindling that heated the first felled wildebeest that fed
the first nuclear family in the first gathered community ... to the last
bomb that was dropped that killed all living beings on Earth because, as
on Mars long ago, it popped the atmosphere like a soap bubble and turned
the planet into a lifeless, frozen cinder; then five million years passed
and life began anew.
- Eventually, the eternal ephemeral intelligence that animates
all living things and drives trillions of different species on countless
different stars and planets throughout the universe began to contemplate
the end of all life throughout all the vigintillions of galaxies.
- Still, from the great distance of time it had achieved
into a far future we cannot begin to comprehend, it looked back on its
most antediluvian history, and for all its technology and all its intelligence
still could not see the beginning, so it could not realistically predict
- Yet intelligence remembered everything it had ever learned
and it recalled an ancient creed that had once held sway in the highest
snowy mountains of an exquisitely beautiful planet its inhabitants had
called Earth - now long since consumed by its exploding sun. It remembered
an ancient ritual called the bardo, in which some devotees created an imaginary
alterworld between life and death which they calculated they traversed
between the time their physical bodies died and they were reborn into a
new life they had chosen after a period of profound reflection and advice
from spirits they had invented.
- If only, intelligence in the far future mused, if only
those enigmatic humans had practiced in real life what they had planned
to practice in the bardo, how much happier they would have been. Because
they refused to realize their existence in the corporeal state was in reality
a transit between deaths - and since we know that both states are equal
on the astral plane that governs the lifecycles of the universe - they
waited until they were dead to practice what they should have been doing
while they were living.
- Had they done that, their planet would have been peaceful,
as I intended (intelligence said), and they could have chosen the end they
really wanted, which is of course is not to end at all. But their fear
got in the way, prevented them from doing it. Thankfully, intelligence
continued to muse, there is not now nor ever was any reason to be afraid,
as virtually all living things have always known.
- Thus, on some crisp night in some happy world of the
far future, some curious adolescent wanders out at night and ponders a
starry sky, imagining a happy face from flickering light high above that
has taken millions of years to reach him.
- As he looks up, the quintessential question furls on
his brow. "Why? Why should all this beauty should come to have existed
- Amid the trillions of twinkles dancing overhead, the
eternal whisper wafts down like an elegant waltz in time.
- "I created the universe because I was lonely. So
now you have no reason to be, because I am always here. All you have to
do is look up at night. You are a part of me and I am a part of you. Remember,
we're both stardust. Although my face may change with the passing of days,
as far as you are concerned, little one, I will always be here. Because
I always have been.
- "No matter where you are, or how bad things seem
to be, you are never alone, because you are always at home, with me, among
the stars, where there is no beginning and no end."
- The little shaver smiled, toyed wth a stick in the dirt,
and studied the fine but dim white mist that someone long ago had called
the Milky Way. The voice spoke again.
- "The only thing you have to fear is believing this
is not so. Don't let anybody fool you. Because it IS so. Just watch the
sky and see."
- And with that, as they always have and always will, the
beautiful stars rode by.
- John Kaminski is a writer of political and psychological
broadsides who lives on the edge of a vast sea where the stars are very
bright. For more information go to