Don Rogers: In the middle of it all | TheUnion.com

Don Rogers: In the middle of it all

If the universe is infinite, we each lie at the center of it.

I'm not talking esoterica here, either. The cosmic microwaves provide a real clue, coming from everywhere. At you.

And me. I'm going by consciousness. No one is you'er than you. From you, everything is equidistant. Therefore …

And the same for me, bound to my own sentience, which puts me at the center.

But what does this mean?

There's the expression, "You are not the center of the universe."

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But you are.

You actually are.

The proof's good as gravity, true as apples fall from trees, even if our ceaseless science now probes waves of this force and hints of graviton particles that might upend current theory.

Friends whose professions concern life improvement say people ultimately just want to be happy, to be loved and accepted.

There's this note Albert Einstein wrote in 1922 as a tip for a courier at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. He suggested the courier hold on to it. Maybe it would be worth something over time. So this story goes.

Well, the note sold for $1.56 million at an auction in Jerusalem a couple of months ago.

What did it say? "A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest."

I think I see evidence for this in our ideal career-and-pension lives, for boomers leavened with an average of 36 hours a week watching television. Millennials have their own screen addictions, of course.

So what in my conceit I dismiss as an incredible waste of time, a terrible dulling of our potential, simply may ensure quiet and modest lives for many more people, a fully legitimate version of joy even as we fatten more or less contentedly, too.

Meditation is boring. Exercise hurts. Striving not only is hard, but scary. Pursuing success is far from a guarantee of anything but missing out — a party, a favorite show, a hike, a beer or maybe two with friends — confronting everything you are not, at least not yet, if ever. Constant unrest, like the man said.

A dim contentment with life doesn't seem quite it, though, much as those happy moments hold me. Maybe this is a wants-and-needs thing. We want to be happy. We need something else.

Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington D.C., Silicon Valley sprinkle glitter on big dreams but also serve up enough cautionary tales to realize ambition alone ain't it, either. Why matters.

Chasing wealth, power, fame for their own rewards look like exercises in missing the point, perversions of the American dream a la "The Great Gatsby." So many moths to this lamplight would have been far better off staying home, basking in front of their televisions instead.

It struck me in a conversation the other day that an answer might lie in what we hold holy. What is sacred to you, standing there at the very center of the universe?

I look at this as grand as our notions of God and as simple as a moment. Like watching a stream of children, each with a can of food, join a parade Thursday morning in its 134th year through downtown Grass Valley since Caroline Meade Hansen wrote a letter to The Union suggesting kids donate a stick of wood and a potato to help struggling families around Christmas. There's something holy there.

I realized I've always held words holy, all the way back to my parents reading to me at bedtime. I cannot not write, however much I may struggle. Whether I'm any good at it, make any money, anyone reads my work or I even like beating my head like this is beside the point. I must write.

If I'm honest, I think this thing is planted even deeper in me than people, callings, interests. Deeper than faith, contribution, blood, comfort. Deeper than talent, creativity, understanding. Deeper and yet it suffuses everything else, too.

This is the center of the center of my universe, the finger reaching to touch the divine. The one thing. Why I live beyond passing through my allotment of time.

This was my gift, or at least the wrapping around something more limbic I can't quite articulate but is there, small as a graviton, the core of the core, holiest of the holy.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@theunion.com or 477-4299.