TO SPEAK OF MANY THINGS

I'd like to talk about this planet we're trying to share for a minute, if that's alright. Seems to me it's gettin a little messy and a little crowded around here.

There's some other issues wrackin around my head, too--lots of em, actually--but, my main point is about paying attention to what we're doing here. I mean, dammit, folks.

If I was looking down here from somewhere else, say, the moon, or someplace, I'd swear there was a plague of tent caterpillars or some kind of bugs, eating the whole damn place up! They are, of course, but I'm talking about US eatin and tearin the place up, just like a bunch a bugs. And I'm one of 'em. I know it; so I ain't blaming you for nothin in particular. Just seems like we ought to talk about it before we eat the whole damn thing, and we start looking at each other funny.

Part of the trouble, if you ask me, is none of us--not one of us--remembers what this place was like in the first place. How could we? We ain't lived long enough. We're here just long enough to take some big bites out of the place and then we die the hell out of here to let somebody else have a whack at it. And there's getting to be fewer and fewer good bites left...depending on how you like your bites, I guess.

This ain't goin to be no easy conversation, even if I do all the talking, I'll tell you that. It's complicated as hell, this mess we got ourselves into, and I ain't going to pretend I know just how to fix it, neither, cause I don't. I sure don't. I don't think anybody else does, neither, no matter what they might say. Mostly there's some real good ideas on how a few people can get bigger bites, or how more of us can get smaller bites and make it last a little longer. But, I'll tell ya, I think it's gonna be all gone--at least the world as I know and love it will be gone--one way or the other, sooner or later. And I don't think there's a damn thing anybody can do about it. It's just a shame, and so, it seemed like a good idea to talk about it. What have we got to lose?

You get to wondering what's the point in this whole business, anyway. I'm talkin about the Meaning of Life, here, in case I didn't make that clear. And I know there's plenty a ideas out there about what that meaning is. Well, I got some opinions of my own about the whole deal, and if I can't say 'em here, well then, where? It's my page, ain't it?

Here's what I think:

There ain't no "meaning."

I'm serious. I don't believe there's any more meaning to my life than to a bug's life, anyway, or a mushroom's. And the meaning or purpose they've got is simply to get busy reproducing (or replicating, if you get to the real Master Planner, the DNA...But, I ain't no Science Expert, so I'll keep this simple.) We ain't got no more higher purpose than to pass on our genes, provide our youngsters with enough to do the same, and get the hell out of the way.

Now, I'm not saying we have any less purpose than bugs and mushrooms, either. In fact, I'd say, biologically, at least, we got exactly the same purpose. And we're all of us busy as hell on it, bugs, trees, mushrooms--everything, including us.

I doubt if we'll even stop with this planet. Humans have already been to the moon and sent some of our stuff to other parts of the universe. Could be we included some little DNA surprises with them spaceships that are already adjusting to a new home somewhere. Wouldn't surprise me. We might not even be the first. You take things like pollen, spores, or bacteria--they're pretty small and float around in the air all the time. Anybody absolutely sure that some of them haven't been getting out into space for a few million years already? Anybody really sure we didn't get started here in the first place by a little bit of DNA that floated here out of space? Seems possible to me.

Anyway, that pretty much makes a mess of a lot of religion and philosophy, don't it? Well, I'm sorry, but they never convinced me. You can believe what you want, of course, you dupe.

Now that I've dumped that out there, somebody might find it pretty cynical and bleak. Well, I don't, not at all. It's just the way it is, and it leaves a whole lot to say about what I choose to do while I'm doing my time here. That's what religion and philosophy try to do, anyway, ain't it? Tell us what we ought to do, given our situation, whatever it is. I just think our situation is something a little different than what I've been hearing. It's hard to know where to start on a subject like this...

Isaac Asimov was a writer. He's dead now. He's also a dead scientist. Pretty smart guy, though. He wrote science fiction and some pretty good science facts, too. One book I remember was about the size and scale of things. Space is too big and atoms are too small for me to really comprehend, I don't know about you. Well, Isaac wrote this one book that made some comparisons of things big and small (no, I don't remember the name of it, that ain't my point), and made them both a lot easier to comprehend, at least for me. Here's a couple of things I remember, sort of strung together.

If you took a pea and you blew it up (enlarged it) until it was the size of the earth, the atoms in that earthsize pea would be the size of regular peas. Think about that for a minute, and even if it isn't exactly accurate, it's close, and, Buddy, that would be one hell of a lot of peas! I'm talkin in the bazillions here!

OK, now maybe you got some idea of the unimaginable number and the tiny size of atoms. I do, sort of.

This next part doesn't seem related at first, so bear with me for a minute....

Suppose you could take a glass of water (think of the number of atoms in a glass of water...) and dye or mark all the atoms in it. Then you took that glass down to the ocean and dumped it right in. Eventually, the atoms in that glass would mix all up in the oceans and it would get scattered all over the earth, until about the same amount would be everywhere. (I don't know how long it would take, but it would happen.) There wouldn't be many atoms from that glass in any one place, that's for sure, but there would be some of them everywhere.

Well, Azimov figured that if you took another empty glass and scooped it up full, from anywhere on earth (after you waited long enough for it to get all mixed in), you would have about 100 dyed or marked atoms in your glass from that original one. Doesn't seem possible, does it? But, you have to agree there would be some of those dyed atoms out there, right? Once you accept that, and give in to the unbelievable size and number of atoms in that glass, well, 100 is probably not far off. Hell, even if there was only one marked atom in the glass, it's still amazing. And, it leads me to another point. Several, actually.

Air is a fluid, a lot like water. You and me have been breathing it in and out for as long as we've been alive. And when we breathe out, we don't breathe out the exact same atoms as we breathed in. We let out some atoms that were part of our bodies just before we exhaled.

Air being a fluid, it sort of follows that your breathed out air atoms are pretty well spread out all over the planet by now, or they eventually will be. Mine, too.

Folks, we are breathing each other's air--no, each other's bodies!... And that ain't the half of it.

We are also breathing in air (which was part of their bodies just before they exhaled) from George Washington, your dead great-great-great grandpa, Elvis, Jesus Christ, the dinosaurs, whales, bugs, and everything that ever lived. More or less, anyway. Something to think about, ain't it? It makes me feel a whole lot more connected to the rest of the world when I think about this, I don't know about you.

And remember the water thing? What do you think you've been drinking your whole life, anyway? Think about it. And don't get me going on the soil, which is just one big mixture of things dead and gone, being endlessly recycled into the things we eat. We're in a dang soup, here, which puts a different spin on this whole issue of sharing the planet and eating it up, don't you think?

Like I said, though, I don't think we can do anything about it. My point wasn't to give you the idea we could change anything. Except maybe how we think about the whole business.

Now, here's another idea of mine, free of charge, to ponder. Take it or leave it, I don't care. I borrowed parts of it from a philosopher named Alan Watts. The rest I made up, or borrowed from my friends and folks I can't remember.

I'm not getting into much of a discussion about God. I put the God most people talk about in the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. (A bunch of baloney I never quite forgave my grown-ups for trying to pass off on me.) Still, I'll admit, this whole universe is pretty amazing and you gotta wonder where the hell it came from. We're all on our own to figure that one out, as far as I can see.

Now, the idea of a heaven and hell, wherever it came from, just escapes me. I don't buy any of it. It looks to me like when we die, we go back to exactly wherever we came from. I have no memory of anything before I was born, and I haven't heard back from anybody who's died yet. Looks to me like we go back in the Soup, via the worms, same as every other living thing, including them worms. If my lack of memory serves me right, it ain't that bad, either.

Now, I'm not that much different than anyone else out there, and I'd love to put a mystical spin on all this; make it sound like something bigger or more important than that. But, this is about as close as I'll come. The thing is, if you look at it in a certain way, its is a pretty big deal, just the way things are. It is to me, anyway.

You see, I think we are the eyes of the universe. The Eyes, if it makes you feel any better.

Or as Alan Watts wrote: we are the "I's" of the universe. I like that one, a little play on words. We are the I's of the universe. We're how the universe looks at itself and thinks about itself. When we are born, we look at, or become aware of the universe. Being a part of the universe in the first place, we are the universe looking at itself, the universe being aware of itself. You might even say we're how God sees him/herself, if you wanted to. That's pretty important sounding, I think.

We are like little lights, or stars, I think, blinking on and off, in and out of awareness, as we live and die.

(I'm not even sure who I mean by "we" here. It could be that every living thing is an eye, or an I. People haven't quite decided who qualifies to have an "I". And the only reason people have any say about it in the first place, is because it seems like we're the only ones writing it down. That is the one thing I might admit is special about us.)

When I look someone square in the eye, someone I know, or even better, someone I'm sharing a joke or a special moment with, I can almost feel God looking back at me. I tried for a long time to figure out what that special feeling was that you get looking into the eyes of people. Even some animals will look you in the eyes. Why is that, anyway?

We're alone out here, you know. I mean, inside yourself, you are totally alone. You will never know exactly what it's like to be another human being or other creature. You are one unique set of Universal Eyes, and so is everyone (or everything) else. Maybe looking into each other's eyes takes away the loneliness we get from being separate. Maybe God gets lonely and when we connect with our eyes--or even with our consciousness--we all feel less lonely. God sort of looks in the mirror when we look in each other's eyes, you could say. It works for me. It seems to work for a little baby in its mother's arms, looking up into her eyes. It even works to look into your dog's eyes, if you got a dog.

So, Brighteyes, what do you think of that?

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