Welcome to the Cosmos
Einstein said the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.
Light travels from the sun, photon packets of pure energy generated in fusion reactionsthat take ten thousand years to get from the center to the surface, ten minutes to reach your eyes from there, and nearly no time at all to get from your irises, blue because of a single mutation thousands of years ago, after our species had covered the eastern hemisphere, to my eyes, where the light is taken in by muscles that breathe, down neurons in electrical reactions powered by sodium and potassium to be translated by a brain 4.6 billion years in the making, into love, which
is the most incomprehensible thing of all.
It cannot be grasped, the way I feel for you. It can’t be muttered like the empty assertion that the emotion is a chemical cocktail synthesized by the muscle in my skull to tell me to protect you and care for you.
Most mammals are born into adolescence. We’re not, and our slow development allows us to be curious, to seek knowledge, to learn to love one another, to develop a dizzying array of cultures each as beautiful and barbaric as the next.
Because I love you, and my mother loved me and so on back to the first mammal at least, we are able to want to grasp reality, to hold ourselves up and become lost in the mystery of it all. The absolute determination to touch and verify reality is something you already exhibit, and I hope you continue to love the mystery like your mother and I do.
Once a friend asked the two of us to make the best case possible for the existence of a God. Your mother readily gave Euler’s identity. I discussed the emergent order of the cosmic system. In the natal ward as we were falling asleep I asked her again and we agreed that the way we felt for you was the most perfect, symmetrical, orderly, beautiful though somehow human thing we had ever known, and agreed that it was the best proof we had yet to experience.
You are matter forged from supernovas in the universal dawn. The iron in your blood was created by atomic fusion in pressure and heat greater than we can imagine, and it drifted through the void and was caught in the protoplanetary disc rotating around our young sun that slowly condensed into Earth. The surface cooled and solidified and water appeared and untold generations of life lived and died in the succession. The soil from the love and pain nursed a plant that had been bred by our species in an ancient symbiosis, and it was cooked into food your mother ate and through action of complex proteins your very body was built. Water that has undergone near-eternal recurrence through clouds and bodies of organisms is now in your mucous membranes, and it bubbles out through your nose. Every infinitesimal moment in the infinity of our rubber band multiverse is perfectly brought about by more factors than any computer could ever analyze.
The universe is only theoretically comprehensible, and this moment is an infinite universe of its own: Your mother’s hospital gown wrinkled around her slouching neck in sleep. The little stocking cap you’re wearing. The clock on the wall. The lawnmower outside. The breeze through the window carrying lilac. The crying down the hall. Your balled fist around mythumb. The somehow fact of my mind observing and considering all this while you grasp the
fabric of the gown and go back to sleep.
The world is beautiful, but it isn’t easy. Chaos and order, or what we perceive as chaos and order, are both constants. The litany of brilliance and suffering that brought humanity to this point from the big bang is too often forgotten and forsaken by its progeny. It took billions of years of conglomerating matter, the miracle of life coming out of the primordial soup, the evolution of reptiles and mammals and hominids, thousands of years of invention, agriculture, language, math, philosophy, curiosity, all the systems put in place to give us time to think and then all the inventions that allowed us to observe and test. Today, one non-dimensional point in a line, we carry on the lineage. But people don’t see the end goal of cosmic understanding as the point of all this work. No, people are small minded, selfish. The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity. Wonder and tedium are particle and wave.
But remember, as you navigate the line of time, as you become an atom in the cloud of the macroorganism, that the universe is older than you can imagine and yet will last until long after you die, until after our species goes extinct, until after the sun expands, until after the milky way is swallowed by its central singularity. The earth is sanctified by its random life. The ultimate goal is knowledge, and the day to day goal is love. You nor I are too special at all, but as
long as I lay here, half asleep, my jeans rumpled on a hospital bed next to two I love, the Monism of the universe is real and we are entangled, caught here in an infinite and infinitely subdivisible now.
Welcome to the Cosmos. We’re happy you’re here.
Spring/Summer, 2020 Issue