"So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked." - - - Mark Twain
I was walking within my apartment complex the other day - the hour was late and most of the world around me had already retired. The designers of my residence were thoughtful enough to include a long walking trail on the perimeter of our premises. It is aesthetic and wild with many a turn - winding through gorgeous tall trees and surrounded by beautiful foliage. In the day it thrives in the balmy summer air and bird songs while during the night it cultivates a cool breeze and the gentle rustle of tree leaves. A singular section of this trail goes through an open grass land - and on this particular night the sky was so clear that the stars above took my breath away!!! It caused me to pause my walk and lie down - and to think and reflect ....
[Image used in conformation of copy rights - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/M31_Lanoue.png]
I was distracted initially and I had a million things on my mind mostly revolving around my career, responsibilities and personal life - but after a while those thoughts settled and I felt anew a sense of calm - and in the silence of that moment - there was no one and nothing between me and the stars. My breaths deepened and I felt myself intoxicated with awareness, for a brief period of time, we were breathing in complete harmony - me and the night around me.
I have always loved stars, back in school I had managed to save up enough pocket money to buy a little telescope. This tube of lenses was my portal to the universe. Every week, I used to squeeze out some time - and away from the prying eyes of the world, I would escape to a tryst with these diamonds in the sky.
Stars have a unique way of inspiring and humbling the human mind. They have been for centuries. Thousands of years ago, people of almost every civilization looked at the heavens above - at the same very patterns we see today - and tried to connect these revolving lights with the events of their lives. Almost anyone who has held an audience with the stars quickly comes to realize how minuscule human life really is. The sheer scale of the universe is staggering and quite beyond the realms of the most gifted of imaginations. Science itself has been trying mightily to encapsulate and explain the entire universe through one unified theory - from ether to the big bang - from string theory to the membrane, each time we thought we've found the answers - we've discovered - that we couldn't be more wrong. Even though I am a deep rooted and honest to GOD student of science - I find this human urge - 'to explain everything around them' - quite amusing, futile and of late unnecessary.
What we do know is that a long time ago, our Sun and it surrounding planets evolved from the gasses and elements of this universe - first the star and then the planets around it ...... and eventually at one point - Life. Our comprehension and view of the universe has often times been too narrow and revolving only around the time the human species came into prominence on life upon Earth. Too often do we forget - that before us there was another species which ruled - that after us there still might be another creation to flourish and that before any of it we all really were just bubbles of elements boiling in hot lava.
The intervention of that night's silence and its probe into my mind made me realize that often times we choose to dwell solely upon human life - and only our lives at that. We surround ourselves with news and gossip - we argue and laugh amongst our friends - we fall in love and we fight - we hate and we fall in love all over again - we live and we die within and only within this tiny slice of time. While important, I find this view of life rather limited and sorely incomplete.
I believe - failing to realize how minute and inconsequential our existence is - prevents us from understanding the true significance of life - and from admiring the true beauty of creation. Right before my conversation with the stars - I was stuck in a hard place in my life, one where I was perpetually worried that I might live my entire existence without making any significant contribution to the world. The dialogue helped me put all of my anxiety into perspective.
The truth is we were all born out of this universe and when we die - we will all be part of this universe again. This concept was proven by Einstein but very few people choose to see it this way. There was a time in my life when I felt all living creatures were infinitely superior to dead things - like rocks and sand - where as the truth in fact is that the same elements that make all of our planets, make the rock and the same elements make us. We worry about causing the planet damage. Yes, its bad - and we shouldn't pollute - but its bad only for all life on earth - which - in the scheme of things is just a blip in the universe. I guess the point I am trying to drive home is that we make too much of ourselves. We have invested so much time and energy in trying to keep us alive for as long as possible - believing that a human life - rather a human's consciousness of life is the all essential thing to preserve - all the time failing to realize that it is the shortness and unpredictability of life that makes it so beautiful.
As I lay on that cold earth - in total peace - I felt for the first time as being one with the universe. All the problems and uncertainty of my life still remained - but I could clearly hear what the starlight had whispered to me - That millions of years from now, when I would be no more - when Earth might be no more - we will all still, be a part of this universe - and perhaps some day a small boy on the top of a roof on some remote planet will see me as a speck of light - and be delighted once again as I was - this beautiful night.
The only true meaning of life - I have come to believe is in enjoying our existence and feel - in each breath what our senses tell us. To find peace and happiness rooted in the certainty of our mortality and to enjoy this transient bijou we call life. We are after all - simply Starlight!!