Don Rogers: On loan from the stars
November 23, 2017
What infinitesimal chance of becoming you do you suppose you had? And yet there you are, maybe reading this, the height of indulgence.
You could have been the turkey in the middle of some Alta Sierra road as my SUV bore down, lights on in the twilight, headed to a Thanksgiving party. Which way? The part of the flock over there or over here? Life's choices. You yelp as you make yours. I'll eat a cousin later.
Not to be gross, but your universe could be my intestine, you blind and crucial to what I call my life, among the horde of species that support me as I support them.
What is heaven to bacteria, viruses, beings that vastly outnumber humanity? All infinitesimal chances themselves. And what of humanity crowding other beings out?
We know nothing. That’s the real truth. We’re the youngest of children. Our cynicism has no standing.
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What were you grateful for as you shopped this week, preparing for family coming in or maybe you going to the mother ship determined not to argue over Trump this year; this time, can't we just digest in peace? If I steer clear, will you?
Why do you have to be grateful for anything anyway? Isn't it kind of Hallmark to think of this now, in time for the holidays? What's next, homages to the blessings of giving?
All the stars, the billions in this galaxy, the billions of galaxies in this corner of the universe, maybe billions of universes and multiverses, too.
And you landed here, now.
But maybe with heartbreak. Check that, assuredly with heartbreak. And a monkey mind full of human concerns, your glories and sorrows, your spider web of social connections all vibrating — consume this, scoot from that, try to still your trembling self. Beliefs, fears, upbringing to surmount or comfortably inherit. Lots of habits. Maybe some addictions. Illness, age, godknowswhat. Maybe cancer.
Still, if you can read these words, how incredible that you were born, as you.
You do know you are made of borrowed stuff, right? From stars. From dung. You drink the same Mesozoic water as the dinosaurs.
Against the whole scale, you see, feel, smell and hear as dimly as an earthworm, with whom you share most of your DNA.
An atheist might as well be a passionate adherent of the weirdest cult. As for Jews, Christians and Muslims — no discernible difference. Same beliefs and values, same origin. Only nuances in ancient stories teased apart and recast in enmity separate them.
Against the infinite, ideology is absurd. Well, if you think about it, it's absurd simply against the backdrop of humanity's own puny, fingersnap-long history. Political wrangling is as laughable and pathetic as all other grasping, what you think should be yours and not theirs. Why you seek wealth, power, fame, "happiness" rather than, say, wisdom.
"You" is just a convention, of course, a manner of speaking. I mean me here, too. We. Here we are, in our oldest, wisest age still mere infants. No, not even that. Embryos? A couple of cells with a spark? Almost nothing, yet something. And there's the miracle. Today a consciousness eager for dinner, the game, company and maybe to avoid last year's argument.
I think of eternity when the human world swells so big and red, an inflammation, when our politics get so ridiculous, our thinking so screwy, our values so astray and I so, so small.
We know nothing. That's the real truth. We're the youngest of children. Our cynicism has no standing.
Well, OK then. Earth to Rogers. All right, I'm back. If it dries enough, finally, I'll blow the leaves off the driveway, maybe go up on the roof. The kids will be here for our family gathering, and with them their toddler son. My light, my joy. Heh, heh, my instrument of revenge.
He makes infinity nothing. He toddles on, everything. The very secret of life embodied. What I can't help but be grateful for.
Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-4299.