Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.
— R. Buckminster Fuller
Outer space. The galaxy. Planets. Solar systems. What an unbelievable thought to try to conceive. Lately, it’s really fascinated me. As I lay in bed, my roommate snoring lightly across from me, my sheets itching to be changed, my dentist’s voice in my head criticizing me for not flossing, I’ll turn on my computer and find some youtube video that just takes me through space, through the galaxies, through other worlds. You should try it. It’s breathtaking.
Seriously though, we get so consumed with our little worldly things (“He messed up my coffee order!” “I forgot to do the wash…for the second straight week.” “I think we’re out of cinnamon toast crunch”). All the while, this great, vast, incomprehensible existence? reality? just surrounds us above.
For some people it makes them feel small. For others, it gives them proof of God. For me? It’s humanity’s true well of creativity. The purest muse singing to all of us, tickling under the chins of our imaginations, slapping our back when we start to choke on our lives. We live in a world so tethered to cause and effect, laws of physics, gravity, that thinking about space, about what’s beyond our comprehension, gives rise to the ability to dream past anything and everything we’ve come to believe as true.
I never really dreamed of being an astronaut—I wear contacts/glasses anyway, and I heard NASA is somewhat eyeist—but it’s definitely cool to imagine what it would be like to be an astronaut. Hell, that’s essentially what science fiction is.
And when you use space to put things in perspective, to gauge the merits of our philosophies or morals or beliefs, you begin to wonder what is true and what isn’t. You begin to wonder what’s beautiful, what’s funny, what’s sorrowful, what’s hopeful.
If you’ve never done it, take one person you’re close with and drive out into the country (this could make a very romantic and successful date by the way) to the point where the lights of the city have retreated into their urban carapace. Do it on a warm night, when adventure streams between your teeth with every breath, when the future’s finally fully pulled the shade so you have no urge to peek inside. And get a nice blanket, maybe a quilt, and just lie down on the most comfortable spot you can find and stare upward. Stare up into the cosmos, the heavens; try to find the pupils of gods, the reverse color of our own, and let your imagination take your thoughts by the hand, stroll into that tangled garden of infinity, of forever, of nothingness and everything, of where humans have been and where we will head. Don’t speak for the first few minutes. Don’t look at anything but the sky. And after a while, after the night, the stars, the other planets have accepted you as kin, words and ideas will bounce between you and your other in a way gravity never permits us.
And if you’ve done all of that before, do it again. And again. And again. They say ‘everything in moderation.’ But with space, such comparative means that delineate the concept of moderation don’t exist. So go and look as often as you’d like. I beg you.
Breathe. Stare. Live.