Self-Indulgence with Liner-notes #9
It might start with the Higgs-Boson, my list of things from smallest to largest and what I think about them. It’s a list I made because I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to understand why I either cry in despair or grin in delight when I worry about what Frankl worried; Meaning, meaning, meaning. “Man’s Search for Meaning” Mother had that book and it looked thin and easy-to-read, there on her bookshelf. No wonder she hung herself. Without spirituality, without a religious taboo, suicide is painless. Buddhism has it that you suffer in each life (each one among them all, for as long as it takes to erase the mountain with wipes from a silken cloth) until you become enlightened. Near endless, that suffering. The Catholics were, until Vatican II, no better, with their hells and purgatories that went on and on and on. It’s easy to swing the rope if you’re an atheist with faith. A true non-believer would believe that it would all end, all the tears, the fear, anguish, the sadness, the thought… All would cease in swinging silence, the mechanics of meaning abandoned.
I think I know something about a theoretical thing, a thing that gives mass to energy. According to the maths that other people have done, it’s supposed to be the very smallest thing we could measure and we can only do that by destroying a single thing with another single thing – at the next scale up – to pieces. We measure the perturbations, we map the explosion, we detect the in-detectable by using formulas of uncertainty, and we think we may have done it.
If the Empire State Building was a quantum particle, a positron, a gluon, a quark, or another, you can imagine being a tiny fragment of glass, maybe from one of those small panes inside the observation deck, after another Empire State Building had been smashed into at light speed and everything had been consumed in a hellish plasma ball where you flickered in and out of existence, and recombined into something smaller, something smaller than an atom, in comparison to you, now. I’m under the impression that it’s something the size of that thing that they’re trying to measure, and they’re trying to measure it in a hurricane.
Oh. And they think we may have done it, found and measured the smallest of small things.
The next things up in this cosmology of mine are the atoms and molecules that make up the things we can usually interact with, people and moon-rock and salt and so forth.
There are tons of things to admire about stars, but providing a gravity-well for planets, as well as the light that warms them, are among my favorites. They create exotic elements when they nova, all the things necessary to provide life to us.
Our star is thought to be a third-generation star. That just means that after the universe did it’s kiln thing, after the first stars that formed exploded, after their dust and ashes mingled with the swirling of other exploded stars’ dust and ashes, and formed stars and exploded themselves, that our sun formed next. It wasn’t even on fire when our Earth started taking shape first, a cloud of iron and assorted star-debris, orbiting around the Sun, which was a slowly thickening ball of gases, gases light enough to be gathered from far, far around, massive enough in sheer volume that it steadied a solar system. A long time back, five billion years or so, there was a gathering cloud of gas out here that eventually flickered to life and set itself ablaze. That’s basically the theory.
That’s about it until you get galactic or bigger in size (or density) and then there’s some mysterious stuff going on what with dark matter and dark energy getting involved.
Then you notice that the weirdest thing is happening, that the deeper you look into the universe, the younger the universe gets. We’re looking at a quasar formed seven hundred and seventy million years after the theorized Big Bang introduced the Higgs-Boson to Space-time.
Then there’s the sponge of the universe, almost entire empty, just tendrils of galactic clusters and superclusters providing the visual structure, more notable for it’s cold open spaces than it’s hot and unstable ones.
And then there’s that thing that I don’t how big it is. We don’t know how to measure it but that it’s present or not. We know that it winks in and out of existence on our little chemical-sink of a planet, and those of us with any little reason can suspect that it’s true on many other little planets that wrap suns in other solar systems, other, galaxies, in galactic clusters, all over the visible universe.
Maybe Buddha was right. Maybe the inter-connectedness of all living things that Buddha talked about is really just Awareness. We don’t know how big it is. It comes and goes with birth and death, and, to some degree, everything that grows has some of it. Where does it come from? What does it mean?
Why did the newlywed suicide? What secret within Reason do they have? Why does my mind falter when I pray?
They say that the deepest sorrows are the most universal. It means that your secret is shared by others, those you know, others you might not. It means that others have failed others in the same way that you have. It says, lighten up. Give yourself a break. You don’t need to do that to yourself. It says nothing about meaning.
And if death is, as the Buddha would have it, just another round of broken hearts to look forward to, what then?
Meaning has to be found elsewhere.
I’ve looked up and down as far and as deep as I can. And I grin because I don’t have to worry about death providing meaning. And I cry when I conceive of life without meaning. I’ve looked at the Cosmos, like so many before me, and i’m not impressed. If it’s just worlds and worlds of people like us, with problems at home, bad behavior, and hurts… I weep to think of it.