Sunday 26 May 2013

A5: S8 - Lessons From The Moon

The spirit of The Annual Fire Purge was infectious, and tonight, next door invited me over again as they'd acquired quite a bit of firewood and kindling since the festivities of the night before.

I grabbed anything remotely flammable that was left in the house, a few boxes, some old dead flowers that had been in a vase on my windowsill, a Domino's pizza box.

For four hours we watched, again captivated by the fire, until just three of us remained, and we sat back and looked up into the nights sky as the dancing amber embers swirled above us, mingling with the silver pinprick stars.

There was a full moon. We all gazed up into it, silently.
Breaking the silence, I asked the boys how many people on earth did they think had stopped what they were doing, and were just staring up at the moon, as we were, at this exact moment in time.

We marvelled for a moment... thousands? Millions? A billion? Then my blond-haired neighbour, sat to my left, who for reasonable reasons because of reasons I shall call Daniel, said;

"But it's a little bit... sad to think about, isn't it? Because there's us, three people who are consciously noticing the moon right now, and there could be say... a million others who are doing the same right now... but then there is everyone else in the world who isn't. So many people who just... never stop to appreciate something beautiful because it's there everyday. It's... sad."

And that's how the bonfire sparked a debate upon philosophy.

And so we sat, the three of us, silhouetted against the bonfire, and marvelled upon theory after theory, things we imagined, things we made up, things we'd heard somewhere at some point or seen on the Internet. Most of it probably nonsense, but we indulged in the contemplation of them all regardless.

"Okay so there are x amount of people looking up into the stars on earth right now... but how many eyes do you think are looking back at us, from up there?"

Only the crackling wood of the fire filled the silence.

We continued on the topic of the moon for some time.

How does the moon control the oceans and the tides? Why do females cycles match up perfectly in time with the moon phases, every 28 days? What would we do if, as we were gazing upon it adoringly now, the moon just exploded, and we saw it happen? What would happen if we had no moon? If you turn your head this way, do you think it looks a little bit like a bowling ball? Is it true that you can only ever see one side of the moon?

Our conversation further expanded and we discussed space and the universe more broadly. Had we seen the red moon last month when mars was aligned just perfectly to cast off it's infamous hue? No, I hadn't, but I was informed it was spectacular. Imagine how weird it absurd it would look, if all of the planets were as close to us, as the moon is? The boys told me about the notion of 'The Golden Ratio', a mathematical figure of around 1.6 but to infinite decimal places, that is allegedly the key to the universe. I listened in wonder.

Naturally, from space we moved on to discuss time and life.

"Do you ever wonder, why, of all of the millions of years of things that have happened before now, and of all of the millions of years of things which will happen after now, why we happened to be put here, right now?"

That's something which has always fascinated me. Why? Why now? There are things which we have now that people before us could never have dreamt of like iPads and The Internet, and there are things which we can fathom, but we will never live to see or do. The first humans to live in space. To drill to the centre of The Earth. A cure for cancer and AIDS. To discover all of the creatures on Earth, even those ones deep down in the oceans craters, where no human has seen before. The first human not born on planet Earth. To experience weightlessness in space. All of the inventions which we could not possibly dream of, because they haven't been invented yet.

So why are we put here now? With all that has been before us to serve as an example and a living lesson, and all that is laid out after us that we will never live to see, does everyone, born in their own times with their parameters of a lifespan clearly marked out, does everyone feel like they are in this purgatory, caught between a time when there was nothing and a time where there will be all, yet belong to neither?

"Do you think," said my dark-haired neighbour to me right, who for reasonable reasons because of reasons we shall call Curtis, "Do you think that every single person is born with a destiny, like... something they are supposed to do, but whether they achieve it or not is down to the decisions and choices they make throughout the course of their life?"

We all agreed that we thought that was true.

We moved on to talk about death.

"Are you scared of dying?" Curtis said.

Daniel said he wasn't, and Curtis agreed. I thought long and hard about it. Death has always remained one of my greatest fears.

"I think I'm only scared of dying when I don't think I'm ready to. If life were taken from me, instead of me taking my leave." Was what I deduced.

"If you died tomorrow, would you be happy with the life you'd lived?"

I found myself immediately beginning to formulate my reasons for my answer of No. 'There's so much I want to do in the future.' 'There are so many things I want to accomplish.' 'There are so many places I want to go and dreams I want to fulfil...' But then I realised.... I think I would be happy.

I glanced down at my hands then, for a reason of which I'm not sure why, and I suddenly realised;

If I died, right now, I would not die dissatisfied.

"I just can't see myself dying in a normal way. I can only imagine it to be some triumphant dramatic death that saves The Universe y'know?"

It soon became apparent that the early nights we'd all so craved, were not going to happen. As the dying embers of the fire that had previously held flames that almost reached over the top of the house, dwindled and lazed in a hazy amber glow, we discussed everything under the sun.

We talked serious tactics in case of a zombie apocalypse, we tried to recall the most useless things we ever learnt in year 7 science lessons (we decided it was chromatography), we made up countless 'Right, imagine if...'s, contemplating if all of history had actually been a lie, and we were the first generation of humans that the government was testing on to see if they could fabricate a world history and have us believe it, theorising things such as there are actually only one million real living human beings on earth, and all the others are grey, empty half-living shells, there to test us and challenge our wits, to see if we will still fulfill our rightful destiny's, or get caught up in the menial swarm of pointlessness and allow ourselves to be distracted away.

We discussed the philosophical notions of Eternalism, that all of history and time is happening in one giant explosion of infinitely-layered... happening, and not in the linear structure we have come to associate with. We almost blew our minds out of heads talking about Phenomenalism, the notion that every idea or fictional world every conjured up by anyone MUST exist in a parallel multi-verse reality, because the thought of it is part of the universe, just as the person who thought it, so as the universe is infinite, it has to exist because it is part of the universe. So, Iron Man, The Teletubbies and the Pixar desk-lamp are all wandering around in some dark corner of the universe somewhere.

The last thing we discussed, as the one final lump of orange wood began to dim and flicker, was the story of 'The Egg' by Andy Weir, but at a risk of losing everyone in my philosophical babbling's, I'll let you discover that one for yourself.