Thus One Journeys to the Stars

Thus one journeys to the stars - -  Virgil

We shall not cease from exploration

and the end of all our exploring

will be to arrive where we started

and know the place for the first time.

                                        — T. S. Eliot

pulchra es amica mea = you are beautiful my beloved
 - Song of Solomon

If we ever do meet another civilization out among the stars,
perhaps they will forgive our bad monkey behavior
if we show them our music and pictures of our beautiful planet.

So, we - you and I - have completed our journey - and retold our story:
It is the story of the humans - you and me - and even the story of our universe.
What did we learn ? 


We learned that we think, feel and belong - a combination of all these things we think about, how we feel about them and how they connect us to one another - how we belong.

    Belonging by thinking and feeling is what we call love.

We learned that we seek not knowledge, but experience. We learned that we want to experience love - the experience of belonging - belonging to each other, belonging in this universe.

We learned that the meaning of life is not a secret hidden somewhere,
in a book or on some mountain. 
It comes from us. 
Each of us makes our own worldview, as unique as our fingerprints.

          The meaning comes from you, only you. 
                 Only you can assign the meaning of your life.

We learned that this new view of ourselves and the world is flexible - fluid and dynamic - no longer fixed and frozen by doctrines and dogmas of the past. We have learned that the entire universe is changing too. We only thought it was fixed in the past because of our short lives and small size. Now we can measure the long lives of giant things: galaxies and whales, and we can also measure the high speed of tiny things: atoms, molecules and cells. 

Finally, We also learned that we are temporary, flowing through this universe like stars and flowers.
Yes, you and me - and indeed everything here - children, flowers, even stars and galaxies - is temporary.
The time will come when even the stars are gone. As Achilles said to Briseis at Troy:

"I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again."

             —  Brad Pitt as Achilles to Briseis in Homer's Iliad via Troy the movie


We surveyed modern science, but we skipped a lot in this small space - scientific things like particle physics, cosmology and calculus - social things like religion, culture and history. Like Newton’s little boy, we are distracted by shiny things on the beach, while the great ocean of truth at our feet reaches far, far beyond our ken. 

Maybe you want to explore further. How about the grand tapestry above us of the universe as a whole, of which our planets, stars and galaxies - even superclusters of galaxies are mere threads? How about the processes nature uses to build structures from atoms to humans, including weird things like language and pheromones? Or how about Jesus’ rescue from crucifixion by his friends - something institutional religion will never tell you about?  Many wonderful ideas and mysteries - lie ahead, all waiting to be discovered.

Why haven’t we met others in this universe?
    Maybe there are none. Maybe they are too far away.
    OR maybe they destroyed themselves when their power exceeded their maturity.

Although we stand at the threshold to the stars, we may also be about to wipe ourselves out, judging by our greed and violence - what I call our bad monkey behavior. We are so close and yet we may not make it to the stars! Perhaps we were better off back in the trees, squabbling over fruit. Oddly, we may be saved by a contrivance of our own If our computers get smarter than us soon enough to rescue us. 

Finally, we became aware of our place in this universe:

Like fish in the ocean,
        we swim in a vast sea of information. 
Like fish discovering water,
        only now are we becoming aware of this sea.

That awareness is called consciousness.
It will carry us deep into the waters of thought itself. 

Soon we will meet intelligence beyond our own.
But it will come, not from the stars,
It will come from us.


In closing, I leave you with a favorite Einstein quote :

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.

To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms -
- this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.

  —  ( Albert Einstein - The Merging of Spirit and Science)

And a favorite Darwin quote:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity,
from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
   —  Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species


And now, in our closing video, we see the birds arrive. 
Like all life here, they ultimately come from the stars. 
And as one last Great Bird steps down onto the water, 
we can see that they are starships -
And so are we.


We live in a dynamic universe, powered by change.
Everything changes:
    planets, stars and galaxies -
        atoms, molecules and cells -
            flowers, trees and people.
We come, we go. Everything comes, everything goes.
It’s OK. It’s natural. It’s amazing. It’s even beautiful.
                                                         —  Gareth Harris


Deep peace of the shining stars to you - Gareth+

the end

© Gareth Harris 2017       --------        Contact email:        --------         see also: