Friday, 12 August 2016

Of Mankind and Meteors

It's 3:00 a.m. I'm in my fuzzy koala bear-motif bathrobe and bare feet, sitting on the back patio on a lawn chair. It's pitch black outside other than one street lamp on the other side of the fence. I'm cupping my hand around my eyes to block out the lamp, peering up at the sky. I'm hoping the clouds will part long enough for me to see stars, much less the meteor shower the newspapers have been promising us. And I'm thinking if I were in Timiskaming or up at Whole Village, I could probably see the night sky. My former boss is at his cottage in Penetanguishene, where I bet there's a whole skyful of stars shining over the water. Is it too late to jump in the car and head north?


At last there's a break in the cloud cover and I see a scattering of pinpoints of light. The clouds are moving so fast it makes me feel as if it's the stars zooming across the blackness, except they never move in relation to me. For an instant I glimpse the vastness of the turning heavens above me. And I feel suddenly very small.


I can't help but think about the news I see on TV or in the papers every day -- acts of terrorism, cities bombed, political posturing, shootings, poverty, famine, obsession with the economy -- and all at once mankind seems ludicrous. We are squabbling over a speck of dust hurtling through the universe. We are not even a blip on the screen, we are so infinitesimal. We're not piloting this planet we're riding. The laws of gravity and forces of nature are in charge of our course and we have no say at all in any of it. What makes us so pompous and self-centered? Why are we wasting our brief flash of life arguing with the others on our speck? We should just be enjoying the ride together and marveling at the sky.


I was about to go back inside, feeling rather sad and hopeless about the human condition...when I saw a meteor. A bright, long blaze swooping across a quarter of the sky to the west. And then the clouds covered everything over again and that was the end of the show. I went inside to get ready for work, to walk down to the bus station and start my daily slog...but my little corner of the speck seems different to me now.


Have you ever felt that change is coming but you don't know what it is? That's where I'm at right now.



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