Our studies of the universe cause us to cower inward as if pulling back from the cold harshness of a raging blizzard just outside.  We retreat to the warmth of our metaphorical fireplace, radiating away from darkness with warmth and light.  We mostly choose to ignore the evidence of the immensity of that universe.  We are not really afraid of what is just outside, either of the perceived coldness or the darkness of the universe beyond, but we are very aware of the dangers ever-present throughout the course of our given time to be alive on this very tiny planet.

The universe out there, beyond our planet, is harsh.  It is unflinching in its nearly universal ‘zero’ manifestations.  Zero temperature.  Zero air.  Zero earth-like planets.  Where heat exists it does so at extremes that challenge our ability to comprehend without study and instrumentation.  Distances are so vast they cannot be imagined, much less experienced.  And zero social contact, structure, or communication beyond a deafening silence is broken only with ‘particle chatter’ and electrical interference.

Our small orb of comfort rotates and moves, seemingly unaware of its special nature.  Its narrow tolerable extremes allow for what we call life and for our own existence.  Until recently we accepted these wondrous circumstances as our due.  We saw ourselves, through almost all belief systems, as the beneficiaries of a God who could never be understood or explained.  We saw ourselves as the anointed intellect of our small self-contained universe without knowing about what was out there.  Today we are being steadily made aware of ‘out there’ on a regular basis, and we are coming to suspect that the ‘out there’ is affected deeply by our presence in it.

We still don’t know if there is a God. We will never know if there is a God, by the very way in which we’ve decided to define that being or beings.

But we do know that we are the beneficiaries of oddity.  If there are other planets like earth out there then they are remotely rare. They are most likely sprinkled about as faint sparkles across the cheeks of this universe we now know is much more vast than we ever considered, even when technology pointed toward such a conclusion years ago.  Some things are hard for humans to accept and that is one of them.

From our moving points upon the surface of this turning planet, we have opportunity.  Quite possibly we have opportunity not afforded to any being, collection of beings or place in the entire universe.  We have the opportunity to know if we choose to want to know.  Our apparent intellectual power is proving we are not only capable of discovering what the universe really is, and how it really works, but also of creating intelligence significantly greater than our own.  Those things we cannot know by intuition or by the study of scientific results we can come to know by the extension of this new intellect into that harsh ‘out there.’  Our machines of calculation and analysis are using our own intellect for their foundation, but processing information much faster and in much more significant amounts.  We are all living right at the time when these machines are coming to functional capability.  They will change the way in which we perceive this huge complex of matter and energy we call the universe.

Our own place should be one of wonder.  We should all, as the intelligent humans we are, delight in how bizarre good fortune has allowed us to be on planet earth to observe and participate in all of it.  The wonder of our lives, as we go through perceived difficulties, can be changed from critical complaint to such wonder by shifting our perspective.  Prison, sickness, divorce, loneliness and even dishonor should be savored with all the rest of life.  Failures should be appreciated equally with success while financial gain and loss considered nearly the same.  Celebration of attendance is a state that has been ignored completely in the disciplines of psychology and psychiatry, if not life itself. We know enough now to understand that earth is special and that our intelligent existence upon it is even more special.  We should experience continuous bliss in simple attendance alone.

We are all aware participants taking or accepting whatever small part we have in this grand adventure on a developing planet.  To be alive on earth at all, even if in some loathsome hole or lost culture, is to be blessed.  To be a participant with a voice, even if that voice is only to whisper to some other inmate in some institution, is a gift.  To be in attendance and to be aware of that special attendance is worthy of continuing celebration.  The perspective change in viewing our circumstance in this manner also changes the universe.

If we stare into the abyss long enough the abyss will begin to stare back at us and we are, indeed, staring into this abyss.  It is right on the verge of staring back at us.  Stand by for momentous things as the universe takes note of our wonderful world and our own wonder encourages it.

~~James Strauss


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