Last night I watched the International Space Station move across the starry sky. A golden orb it was, arcing overhead, just a tiny dot. Six atronauts are aboard. I waved. I know, sad really, but you never know what a welcome wave can impart across space and time. I’m thinking ‘butterfly wings. The illusion of ‘just a dot’ in the wide sky of a sparsely inhabited island would be no less to anyone who glimpsed it last night between high rise buildings in a big city. And, yet, six whole living people are aboard. To them, we, the whole WE, that is, the Earth, is also illusive. They know we are millions, we are legion, and yet, all they see is a rolling ball of mountains, plains and seas. They don’t see us and we don’t see them, but because of our vast technology, we know we are all where we are.
Let’s look closer.
Up there, last night, NASA emailed a racheting socket wrench. Well, not quite the actual wrench, but a 3D image via a 3D printer that guided the Commander to fashion one himself. It would have taken months for supply vessel to deliver one. Months.
When we look up, we imagine stars to be small sparkly lights dinging about when the clouds are away bothering someone else, even though we know that some of them are much bigger than our own world. Still, as we point them out to a little one, to gaze up in wonder, we don’t think of great lumbering planets, already dying, but of diamonds in the night.
The International Space Station travels at 27,000 km per hour at an orbit height of 431 km, and here I am wondering how long it will take to drive to Doune for Christmas with all that festive traffic. But, my place is down here, not up there, and here is where I need to remember the illusions of time and of space. We know both are always with us, always influencing our decisions, our routines, our days and our nights, but because we cannot control either of them, tame either of them, rule over either of them, we just have to let them be. We must walk with them, through them and around them as fellow miracles.
Now, we may not think of others as fellow miracles. In fact, some are way off miracle grade, in our opinion. But again, this is an illusion. I know that, at this time of year, everyone is ‘goodwilling’ themselves to death, smiling when before there was no smile, giving when we only take for the rest of the year, lifting our care-worn spirits and tired bodies in frightful jumpers and paper hats and telling ourselves it’s fun, and I never did understand why January is all about diets and New Year’s Resolutions. Why don’t we eat sensibly and employ self-control all through the year? Why can’t we give to those who need something we have, and they don’t, every single month? It seems we turn back to ourselves after this crazy happy festive season to face the big black hole inside every one of us all over again.
Black holes. They’re in space too, and in time. Those who are lonely are often closer by than we might like, often in the family. In space, they eat you. As they do down here. For all the technology, the space research, the developments in education, social media, lifestyle (for some) and health care, we are still lost.
And yet, we are found too. If every one of us chose not to turn back in, to scrabble around in the illusion that we are not enough, not clever, not destined for greatness, not important, we might learn, bit by bit, to look out, to see other walking miracles, to learn from them. It isn’t easy for any of us. We all have black holes, black illusions. But those who do make a difference, who do become important, who are clever and definitely more than enough, are those little people who choose not to be consumed by self-pity, guilt and regret. Not one of them was born with anything more than the rest of us. There’s no magic here. Every single one of us grows a black hole. Once we acknowledge that, we can move on beyond it, whether we have ‘everything’ or ‘nothing’.
Another human illusion.
The people who have chosen not to turn back in are the heroes, the warriors, the fighters for life. And they began right here, taking one step at a time, one day at a time.
It’s a new day today. Christmas is coming. But Christmas will also go, leaving us behind.
What will you make of yourself when it does?