Thursday, July 26, 2012

"The absence of the light is a necessary part."

I'm down to single digit days of indigence. Since January of 2009, I've gone without many of the simple things I'd taken for granted in my past life. I learned and accomplished quite a bit along the way, thankfully, and I think I finally understand Solzhenitsyn. When you don't have anything, everything's a blessing. When you can't afford to do anything, nothing is too mundane.

I've walked in the woods nearly every day. I'm in better shape knocking on 41 then I was at 30. I've read voraciously, listened to countless lectures and researched topics that have long interested me. It was a journey inward as well, and for as odd as it seems to write, I will miss this chapter. There is dignity to be found in desolation, for sure, and I'll never forget those who offered a shoulder along the way.

That being said, in a few weeks I'm taking my sweetheart out and ordering the biggest steaks in the city. My restraint is going to give way to a bacchanalian release not seen since 49 B.C. and I won't pretend we don't deserve it. The pendulum will swing back and settle somewhere in the middle, rest assured. My pursuits may be, in no particular order, Kundalini, live music, language and travel.

Back in the moment, everything is breaking. A storm fried my modem, cable TV and bedroom flat screen. My iPod touch, which was probably the greatest thing I'd ever purchased, hasn't worked since one particularly hot afternoon at the pool. I've never broken a bone (and it will be the kiss of death to type this), but if I'm writing my next entry in a plaster cast, it will be none too surprising.  

In other news, the Earth recently deflected another solar storm. How fragile and formidable we are, how intricate our design must be. We're so biologically linked to our star that it's our body's only reliable source of Vitamin D. Our planet could not host life as we know it without the sun being precisely 93 million miles away, and the next time you feel its warmth on your face, consider it a blast from the past (literally): the light took 8 minutes and 20 seconds to get here.

Our atmosphere permits its life-giving rays, yet features a shield which limits our exposure: the magnetosphere, which is generated by the undulating liquid metal outer core of our planet. If the inner core were larger, the mantle deeper, etc., would the outer be smaller? There's only so much real estate to go around, I presume, so if the resulting field was a different size, might it permit these solar storms to harm us?

When I lived in Washington, DC, I enjoyed attending mass at St. Matthews Cathedral.  In one out-of-the-way section, there were engravings on the stone walls. Lo and behold, it was Assisi's Canticle of The Sun. I'd memorized my favorite part:

"Thank You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars, which thou have set in the heavens clear, precious and fair."

She's a little closer to home, but no less intriguing. In fact, perhaps even more so. The ancient stories are fascinating, and like the sun's effects on our planet, we'd hardly be the same without our nearest neighbor. The Earth is tilted at 23.5 degrees, which would be wildly unstable save for the steadying influence of the moon on our axis. Our tides are ruled by its call, as are the breeding, migration and hunting patterns of countless animals. That it may very well have been the Earth is unfathomable.

From a sentimental standpoint, I fondly recall sneaking a peek to the heavens while marching lockstep in San Antonio. There she was, and there she still is. No matter how far apart you are from someone you love, you're staring at the same thing. I find that equal parts obvious and consoling.

What vexes me is the cosmic chicken vs. the egg: Are we the product of this extraordinary design, or was it designed specifically with our species in mind?

I was craving chocolate one night last week, but nothing happened. The next morning I bought some brownie mix, but again nothing. The following night I got out the eggs, oil and a baking pan. Still nothing. The next night I mixed it all, but there was no change. Then I turned on the oven, thinking I'd finally solved the riddle.

You get one guess what happened next:

1. Nada.
2. The Mets fulfilled their yearly promise of dipping below .500 after the All Star break
3. There's a sixth Tolkien film in the works!
4. All of the above

Finally I put the rigamarole in, and voila! It was no Atlantic City treat, but it did the trick.

If everything below is akin to that above, then perhaps this is a decent analogy to our presence here. The complexities of the most delicate flower are the same design as the most distant galaxy. Everything is laid out before us, every last machination and possibility, but it's up to us to do the work. It's as though we've been handed the blueprints for everything we've ever needed. What a gift, eh?

As I start out on my next adventure, I can only see as far as my light will reach. I long. I don't know what's in store a year from now, or what lies around the next hour's bend. All I can do is walk onward with hope, persistence and love. They've gotten me here, to the greatest point in my life, so how could I go wrong?