As a younger man, I was considerably more prone to philosophical waxing in my writing than I am now. Though it is often embarrassing (usually when I’m confronted with horrifically trite high school era poetry) every now and then I find something that surprises me with its competence. What follows is one such example. Though its linguistic pretension is occasionally unsubtle, I’ve always loved this piece. It says everything and nothing about a subject of little interest to me, but which at one time I felt was worthy of this small exploration: God.
Currently, I am standing on a ball of infinitesimal size, hurtling through a vast and empty blackness, seemingly without end. I am standing on this ball and trying, in vain as always, to feel that movement. Alas, I cannot. This does not stop me from standing, however, or walking, or sitting, as it were, all the while straining to feel that ineffable speed, awed by its scale.
Invariable I am confronted by a stranger perplexed or offended by my slack jawed mien. Whenever this happens I usually cease my sensory experiment and go about my daily routine which begins as follows: my first order of business is a visit to the bathroom to admire my haggard morning face, stretch, wash, et cetera, et cetera. When I am done with this, I commonly dress and begin my day in earnest.
This beginning to my day, as commonplace as it may seem, is anything but. Millions of cells working in concert are responsible for all of these actions. They die by the thousands with every move I make, and are born in just as great a number synchronously. They themselves operate by mechanisms with strange names like mitochondria or Golgi apparatus which in turn are composed of even smaller particles called atoms which are made up of electrons, protons and neutrons and so on and so forth. In all likelihood, these atoms and ribosomes and cells, sad to say, do not care about me. This has no a reflection on my own intrinsic worth; it is merely a function of the nature of such things. I don’t much care about them ether, small stupid things that they are. And if I die, they die. It is also true, however, that if they all die I also die; so in that respect we are on even footing.
Digression aside, my contemplation of size on a universal scale is obviously futile. I have neither the frame of reference, nor the synapse strength required to fathom such a thing. I continue to try. This is not out of a stubborn refusal to accept my limitations, nor is it an innate arrogance which drives me to attempt the impossible. No, this is something much simpler: an inability, of sorts, to relinquish the nuances of a concept once introduced to the idea. Perhaps relinquish is the wrong word since, technically, understanding of the nuances was never really mine, nor anyone else’s for that matter. A man who could envision the boundlessness of space in its entirety would likely be driven mad. His insanity would not come from the vastness of his vision, but from his impotent fury at being trapped on this speck of a world hurtling through the heavens. And at the same time, his presumed insanity would merely be a function of our limited viewpoints. As sanity and its opposite have always been functions of the prevalent perspective, this, unfortunately, would make him no less a lunatic. And yet, still there are those like I, staring upwards into the night, worshiping that awesome gyration, gleefully attempting to calculate those eons of light, and clawing recklessly towards that beckoning madness.
Cells in my shins and femurs, eyes and nose, arms and heart, live and die almost infinitely, perhaps dreaming of endoplasmic reticula and cells, of bones and tissues… of organs at a stretch.
If they can imagine those things, and dream them as they are, as I, in my personifying arrogance might imagine, then they have transcended the scale of my dreams by fathoms; but still, they have never dreamed of me.