I’ve never had anything against people making New Year’s resolutions; I’ve just never made any of my own—at least not of the type about which we usually read. And after 73-years of living, I’m not going to start making any now.
As well, the more ensconced people become within the realm of geezerhood, the more aware they become that their windows of consciousness will soon close. Some worry about it; I don’t.
Those who do, tend to redouble their long-held faith that this life is some sort of a dress rehearsal for a post-death eternal one, and their resolutions begin to enter a whole new arena of spiritual intensity.
And maybe they’re correct; perhaps some remembering part of us will live on after death. But there is no MAYBE about this; I most certainly lack the requisite smarts to rule it out.
On the other hand, science and scientific research have dominated my entire professional life. As such, I’ve always remained faithful to science’s prime directive: Faith is what people BELIEVE, not what they KNOW.
So, again, while the possibility exists that it might be true, at least for me, there really isn’t anything to convince me that it’s anything but wishful thinking.
My life has been relatively pleasant, and while I’m a bit apprehensive about how I will die, I have no fear whatsoever of death itself.
And in so far as living life is concerned, my experience has taught me that whether life is a dream, a game, a comedy, or a tragedy depends almost entirely on whether one is wise, a fool, rich, or poor. It always has, and it always will.
Humans constitute the only species that we know of so far that is capable of self-awareness, the ability to understand that we were born, that we’ll live our lives for a while, and that we’ll eventually die.
As such, it is prudent for us to remember that this rock upon which we live is a mere microscopic dot floating in a universe of seeming infinite entropic chaos. If it suddenly blinked out of existence a moment from now, the rest of the cosmos wouldn’t even notice it.
So we need to take care of it better than we’ve been doing so far. And lest we forget, like the cosmos in which it exists, Earth is neither hostile nor benign, merely indifferent. It owes us nothing. It was here first, long before we ever showed up.
We humans worry ourselves silly over some—MANY, actually—of the most asinine things imaginable. And we use it as a rationalization for merely skimming over the few things in our lives that are truly worth the effort to get them right.
The late Dr. Carl Sagan had a profound influence on my life, and he probably didn’t even know it. I not only met him, I took an astronomy course with him many decades ago. I’m leaving you this week with an excerpt from one of his many books, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
And finally, if you’re looking for something that will really get you all bubbly-eyed, click here. Have a great New Year!