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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cosmos-tology: Last Call and Requiem for Twenty-fourteen

Thanks to a thoughtful and generous friend in the BCB audience, I now possess a finely bound Fall Adventures In Utah photo album.  T'was a fine gesture from Dehui Yang from Shanghai, currently a grad student at School of Mines over in Golden. We met Dehui via the blog, then planned to meet up for a summer hike to nearby Ice Lake. Bobbie and I are grateful for your gift, Dehui, as well as our new friendship with you. 

Yesterday, on the eve of the birth of a brand new calendar year, we enjoyed a little reunion and communion with a few old friends—a Last Super, if you will, except that it was lunch, actually. "Last Lunch" doesn't conjure the same sense of finality befitting the passage of man-made milestones that mark our one-shot journey of existential existence. According to our respective "crap shoot" fortuity's, final toasts for year twenty-fourteen ranged between commemoration to cremation, both literally and figuratively. It seems Ms Sara N. Dipity has an evil twin by the name of Miss Fortune, and she takes delight in preying on defenseless children and the elderly. This time last year Miss Fortune paid me a visit, and ended up sticking around for five months, the Bitch. Light a match to January through May.

A geeky left-brained particle theorist would sum the ups and downs of time's passage with little emotion. It's just the Universe doing what it does, he would say, fields of energy seeking balance… expanding here, contracting there, according to polarities. I like to think of the Universe as a gargantuan cosmic lung—energy created and spent, created and spent, expansion and contraction, expansion and contraction. Movement, but on a scale of time such that our live's go un-noted and unnoticed… not even so much as a "blip." On our spec on a spec on a spec of dust planet, our life-forms are a simple byproduct of a much greater process, one that likely has nothing in the slightest to do with us. There is no scale small enough nor no integer to the X power big enough to quantify our lifetimes of existence. We are but infinitesimal, expendable organic atoms of cosmic fertilizer that have no effect on the Big Picture, not to mention relevance beyond our immediate molecular neighborhoods. 

Talk about feeling small; we are but a spec on a spec on a spec on a flea's ass that resides on a spec on a spec on a spec of a planet in a solar system that is a spec of a spec of a spec among solar systems that make up a spec of a spec of a spec galaxy that is itself  a spec on a spec on a spec among neighboring galaxies that are collectively a spec of a spec of a spec of cosmos dust that ebbs and flows (breaths) within an immeasurably minuscule spec of infinite space. Whew. That's the view of earth and it's relevance from one trillion lightyears to the trillionth power distance, and we haven't even left the "curb," let alone the block, let alone the city… state… country, world we call "home." 

But I am my argumentative mother's spoiled rotten youngest child, thus accustomed to feeling significant, the center of at least one person's Universe. So, now that she's gone, I would argue that maybe we have "relative significance," such that, within the realm of our spec-on-a-molecule neighborhood, our spent-life's existence somehow "matters," even if we are invisible atoms of wear that fall away as "dust" from the enmeshment of engaged gears of a much bigger "machine." We are like those furry little collections of minute metal fillings that cling to magnetic drain plugs. Why, you ask, do you think we have relative significance? Because we possess curiosity and the consciousness to be aware of things bigger and places further than our surroundings—Ideas—Conjecture—Logic. Consciousness enables us to have the capacity (some of us, anyway) to contemplate the whole of an infinite Universe (a contradiction  I know…), albeit a vastly reduced and "Cliff's Note's summarization, but still, an Idea nonetheless. We arrange symbols and numbers made in chalk on blackboards in Ivory Towers to represent theories to our replacements (communication) so they won't have to start over. 

Just as hurled galaxies splay out across an infinite Universe, those fields of energy and matter that are stretched and affected by mysterious black holes and other unseen forces, we, as a subset of conscious electrically charged matter, have the ability to affect energy fields that immediately surround us. If you don't believe that, put on your lab coat and try uttering a few kind words to your Sig-O. Go on, do it. Go now and tell them that they are beautiful and that you love them more than life itself. Watch the power and influence of a few simple sonic vibrations as it falls upon their listening devices. Observe and note how a seemingly transient force, an insignificant sonic wave of guttural babble that peters out and dies after traveling only a few feet, has the power to move a "mountain" and affect change. The "if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest" aspect that I find so interesting about the magic of sonic communication is how all it's power is derived from and dependent upon being heard, yet doesn't necessarily require another person to be within earshot. I speak of self-verbalization, or "praying out loud" to some…another blog post for another time. Back in our "Lab," now, observe the magical reversal of polarity, from rejection to attraction... electrons screeching to a halt in an effort to go the other way, like some long train at an intersection that stands between you and a time clock. What power there is in unseen energy. 

Maybe we can't alter the course of the Universe, but, as just proven in our "Lab," we can alter localized energy fields that in-turn alter people around us. I can't help but believe that if each person in our immediate orbit—friends, family, co-workers, corporation, country, party, government, whomever—resolved to exchange just a portion of their negative ego-centricism for positive altruism, that we might be able to salvage a greater cause, a friendship, marriage, corporate morale, unity, and who knows, maybe even geo-political unity. If one person pulls on a rope that's tied to a "wall," it doesn't fall down. But when thousands or millions decide to put aside artificial divisions and misunderstandings and tug on the same rope, well, it's Jericho Deja Vu, baby… yesterday the Berlin Wall, tomorrow global pollution. One person is insignificant, his voice drowns in a cacophonous milieu of self-centeredness and apathy. But if we stop, talk, and listen—join hands and act together—we have the power to achieve a "greater reality." Who knew Mr Rogers was on to something so big when he sang, "…won't you be my neighbor?"         

Over Veggie Panini's, Calzones, and salads, we "caught up" with the goings on in the lives of longtime friends. As with the Cosmos, there were positives and negatives. Some were dealing with aging parents… issues of death, what to do with surviving spouses, when and how to "step in" and lighten the load without leaving them feeling purposeless and bored. Those are tough "no-win" decisions; role-reversal of the worst kind when children must make decisions for parents who begin to struggle in the last chapters of being. On the *positive side, well, we were all still alive and kicking, but fully cognizant that we were but a mere decade or two removed from becoming our parents. Yes, come winter's eve, an asterisk gets added to our life calendar, a "relevance" signifier that, given our age, we're doing pretty damn good.     

I think most of us can agree that too much ado is made of a brand new year. Much like a new car that's unblemished and clean and smells better than a talcum powdered newborn, a new year holds "possibilities." But rust (time) never sleeps; it nibbles away at new paint and health like highway salt on a Korean import. Celebrate your *good health along with happiness on this New Year's Day, for without it, "happiness" has an asterisk.

Peace Out and Holiday Love from Lovely Ouray,
Mark and Bobbie


  1. Peace and love to you and Bobbie! Wishing you good health and terrific adventures in 2015!

    Walking that perimeter trail in those conditions looks pretty treacherous!

  2. Oh, what a beautiful book! So nicely done. Dehui should have sold them, I would have bought one! ;-)

    Nice introspective post (tho only a home builder would have so many "specs" for his specks. ;-) Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

    Thanks for the outstanding memories in 2014. I wish for you and Bobbie a happy, healthy 2015, filled with more great adventures in which the rest of us can tag along!

  3. "What is the meaning of life?"..equals".."Won't you be my neighbor?"

    I think you and Fred finally defined it.


  4. I think I know Miss Sara N. Dipity and Miss Fortune too; small world!

    Dehui's gift is the perfect tribute to you and your blog; thanks for doing what you do - Happy New year to you two.

  5. I relate very well with your observations of aging parents. It is a fine line of balance between helping them but not too much. The Greatest Generation are fiercely independent with strong wills and won't let go of responsibilities easily, which is why they are so strong. It is heartbreaking, nevertheless.

  6. How nice of Dehui to make up that book. Impressive! So remind us, when is Bobbie's big day this month?

  7. That was very thoughtful and a meaningful reminder of the Fall Joy of Utah 2014. Happy New Year, and thanks for sharing your adventures. It means a lot to those of us not yet on the road.

  8. I am grateful for our friendship as well. When I pulled out all of my pictures from July's trip to San Juan Mountains and skimmed over them during winter break, my internal feeling is awesome. Also, I have a better and better impression on Ouray - so nice box canyon. I will definitely come back and hike the columbine lake with you two if I get the chance:).



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