Today I congratulate you on another successful trip around the sun!
May your next trip be better
so you have to dig your nails into the dirt as the orbit rolls on
all seven billion of us screaming
in harmony as the planets stream past…
one! two! eight!
…the trees torched by friction
the windowpanes shattered
the Rockies worn down to nubs
us huddled in our bomb shelters praying for mercy…
…and when you wake up on your birthday next year,
“My, how the year flew by
and anyway weren’t we just celebrating your birthday yesterday?”
Today is the birthday of my wonderful little sister, Kristin! I wrote this by way of celebration. Kristin, I hope your next trip around the sun is a wonderful one, and lasts longer than 24 hours, because otherwise we’re all going to need a landscaper to take care of all the damage from your wild, wild “year”!
A broken line. A space station accident. Laura died the way she’d lived: unattached and alone.
Obedient to inertia, her frozen form hurled through the infinite void. She flirted briefly with passing asteroids, but lacking mutual gravitational attraction, Laura spurned her heavenly suitors and pressed onward.
Finally she locked in orbit with a yellow star. Stray gases coalesced. She grew, accumulating mass, becoming a planet with a woman’s heart.
And after a billion years alone, she brought forth life: one cell. Alone, like her.
Laura wept inside. A billion years to create life. Only 3.6 billion more until love evolved.
Thanks to Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog, I’ve developed an addictive habit of staring at pictures of space, particularly those from the Hubble Telescope Gallery. These pictures both fascinate and terrify me. I gaze at them and feel like the ground’s falling away beneath my feet, but instead of falling, I’m soaring. It has something to do with the sheer scope of what I’m looking at: a picture of something so vast, my brain has no better way to deal with it than to call it “art”.
I wrote today’s story to capture something of that feeling. It’s a story about transformations: death becoming life and loneliness becoming love after long epochs of time. As a lover of science and a person of faith, I’m enamored by the concept of evolution in a philosophical sense. What does it mean to live in a place where chaos produces such beauty? And what better description of patient love do we have than this slow blossoming of life on our dead little rock in space? Or perhaps I’m engaging in some romantic pareidolia to see such patterns to begin with? I don’t know.
Those are huge questions for my humble little blog, and as I’m not a physicist, philosopher, or theologian, I hesitate to venture more than the questions.
What comes to mind when you consider evolution in a philosophical light? Is it chaos, or beauty, or both?