This is from my old blog mystic-lit - where a number of wonderful and creative people posted regularly and where some of my favorite posts live. This is one of my most favorites, and I think early December is a perfect time to re-read it and reflect. Here you go!
by Joseph Gallo
The Cosmos Of Relationship
First off, I want to thank Fabienne for her post last Friday, which helped spark this post into being. She got me thinking well beyond my brain’s ability to do so without consequences.
For those of you with your televisions still plugged in, Carl Sagan's seminal 1980 series Cosmos will air on the Discovery Science Channel beginning January 8, 2008, Tuesday evenings at 9 pm EST.
Why do I mention this? Because there runs a rich thread of associative relationships throughout the series, one that I find of metaphorical similarity here among us as writers and explorers in our own writes.
It was those relationships that intrigued me when I first watched Cosmos. These universal interrelationships continue to capture my daydreaming now in nearly every aspect of my mostly mundane daily life.
Sagan’s unbridled and childlike enthusiasm as narrator of this wonderful series, his reverence in and for the cosmic wonder and awe that dwarfs and magnifies the sum total of our human experience, is what I connect with most.
It is what I try most to impart to my writing students to develop and nourish foremost in their desire to write: a practical and authentic reverence for wonder and awe. I can get downright militant on this point.
If you can not stand alone and look up into the night sky with the endearing embrace of what it is to be alive, to recalibrate your proper size and position, to overlay against that glorious shimmering backdrop all the trivial matters of one’s daily struggles, and to nurture the humbling cognizance of all you do not know and cannot imagine, then you will likely never write anything essential or compelling.
It is the standard before which I hold myself every day.
This came natural to me when quite often, as a child, I would walk along the perimeter of the schoolyard fence at recess knowing that I belonged out there as much as here. I was certain my star people would return for me any moment and I would travel to attain my proper education and learn the true range and scope of my being a human being.
Relationship: Where am I in my own life? Where am I in the lives of others? What threads bind and break, what stories are being told, and which remain, as yet, untellable? Where do I fit in my own skin? Have I allowed room for growth and do I make space for all my universes?
If you make time to watch Cosmos, whether for the first time or a timely reviewing, I would urge you to immerse yourself in the many interconnections, micro and macro, Sagan presents and addresses. Place yourself among them in the context of your daily and writing lives. Ask questions. Imagine answers.
In the 1997 film, Contact, based on Sagan’s 1985 book of the same name and released just seven months after he passed away, there is a scene that always gets me right to the core. It happens when scientist Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jody Foster) is hurtling at superluminal speed through a vibrant wormhole via the travel pod designed by alien neighbors who previously send an encoded message for its construction.
She stops in her journey for a moment before a pageant of lush stars with a burgeoning core of light pulsing in a black womb of space and, as she looks with widened wonder, says, “Some celestial event. No words. No words to describe it. They should’ve sent a poet. So beautiful, so beautiful. I had no idea.”
I literally cannot stop myself from quietly shuddering tears and nodding my head in agreement during this scene. I want to be there. And for a few magic movie moments, I am. But I really want to go. I want to go again.
Whether or not I will have any conscious thought of it, I will, in time, go for real. Not as the first poet in space, perhaps, as I’ve long wished to be, but as I re-elementalize back into all that conspired to make me.
Whenever I look up into the night sky I know that is where I will eventually return. It is my retirement home. Yours too. We are, after all, as Sagan says, starstuff.
On this note I want to share a poem I like a lot on this first day of the new year and wish you all a creatively prosperous 2008.
Muons Are Passing Through You
This is what is: You are walking down an empty road
in the middle of the night. The poor moon drips weak
light on you like waxy tallow and it makes you cold.
Your lover has informed you that your services are no
longer needed and your heart feels like a cancer, your
own soul is like a thorn you have been stabbed with.
Dark hedges line the road and there are voices
whispering within them: they are the voices of the
lost, the damned, the many who will be legion.
And they know your name.
And this is true: You are a stardust person.
Muons are passing through you as you read this.
Cosmic rays are building you up and breaking you down.
Seas are evaporating, gases are freezing into planets,
planets are spinning off into the void.
Hold out your hand and watch the pions dance,
watch your nuclei exchanging forces with the universe,
watch the miracles ebb and flow as endless joy
folds into endless silence and everything is
everywhere all at once and it goes on and on.
And here is more: The infinite is already in you.
It is in you and of you, and it may save you.
But if it saves you, it will give you no choice.
So go down the road. Be death, be stardust, enter
the duality known to the generations who are vanished,
who left behind this double image, but only half
the message, just the instructions for how to begin.
~ Eleanor Lerman (from Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds)