5/10/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
I remember a day when I sat alone at home watching a science fiction story on television. All I can say now for sure is that it made a lasting impression on me. Essentially, the cast consisted of two people, a young man and his fiancé. He was an astronaut, to be sent out to a distant planet, so far away that he would travel at nearly the speed of light to reach it. As in the plot of the movie “200l,” (which followed much later), he would be placed in suspended animation both during the trip to, and on his return from, the planet. His equally young fiancé would also be in suspended animation for the duration of the trip. The purpose of this was to insure that they would be practically the same age when he returned and they were both brought out of their suspended animations.
But something happened with the astronaut on his way back to Earth. Somewhere, somehow, the suspended animation unit failed, and he spent the rest of his time coming back observing the Universe and its mysteries. The Universe opened to him, and he to the Universe. When his fiancé was revived, on his return, she was the same age as when he left, but he was much older, experienced, and wiser. There was a profound silent sadness when they met. The distance of their relationship then might have been symbolized by the distance he had traveled.
Recently, I‘ve been watching “Cosmos,” with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, looking back with him through this Universe; traveling back in time to it's beginnings. I have watched the calendar of origins from that beginning, to see where we humans have evolved to after billions of years since then. I wonder how many of those watching the program understand what it all means, or even try to, because somehow I suspect they are still in a mental suspended animation, waiting for some future revelation about life and the Universe, without reviving enough to come out and let it speak to them.
I am surrounded by those with superstitions and a superstitious world-view, not a reality-based one. They do not even see the World we live in as it really is, let alone the Universe.Like the once-young spaceman, I have seen and learned very much, on purpose and by being open-minded. For the greater part of my life, there have been very few I've found who share a mature experience of freedom. I am surrounded by those with superstitions and a superstitious world-view, not a reality-based one. They do not even see the World we live in as it really is, let alone the Universe. Many of them haven‘t left the Dark Ages of fearing a demon-haunted world and fearing an absent god. To them, I'm like the spaceman, who's seen “too much.” Yet I cannot be content not to see even more.
I‘m a person with an almost inﬁnite curiosity about profound matters such as life, death, evolution, tragedy, the mind, humor, etc. These are awe-full considerations, dauntless where most dare not go, as they prefer ignorant believing rather than obvious realities. Explorers such as I offer newfound knowledge and the joys of discovery. Why deal with people who refuse to grow up? (Would you understand, if I say that I wonder if such believers have an infinite capacity for boredom?)
Almost 60 years have gone by since that program aired. I often feel that spaceman's aloneness, when trying to convey what I know to another, even an adored other, whose kisses temporarily erase the Universe for me, yet who cannot or will not understand. Many people are willing to go as far as to swear to believe in anything, no matter how ridiculous, rather than experience this loneliness. They will sacriﬁce their minds and thinking abilities, even consciences, to be free from it. Mine is a loneliness of Darwin, Giordano Bruno, Galileo. Traditionally, many stories have been written about the pain of loss: loss of lives, loss of innocence, and loss of trust. Absent are the stories of the pain of gain: the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom, and the consequences for those who have acquired them, as they are rejected or spurned. The pain of gain also often leads to indifference from others. But, one can't go back, nor be untrue to oneself. There are worse things than being alone.