I ASPIRE TO
BE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE UNIVERSE
I think that everyone, at some point in their lives, realizes just how small they are compared to the vastness of everything, and it's important for all of these people to know that it's okay that they feel that way. I personally feel this all the time, and it can be quite disheartening to think that a single star in the sky could swallow me whole - I'm that tiny. But so are all of the people that mean more than the world to me. I know that I have no clue what I'm currently achieving as a tiny little human, but I know that I want to figure life out and spend the rest of it happy with everyone I care about.
"i once saw a scientist on television.and she was speaking generally about science things(being a scientist and knowing science things etc.) and, speaking generally i am not a science person,and while i respect them,i do not have much interest in scientists or science things.so i went to switch the channel at the precise moment that the presenter sitting beside the scientist asked:what,in your opinion,is the most ASTOUNDING fact about the universe?and this stopped me.because it is not often that television presenters ask such interesting questions,and the scientist was pursing her lips in a thoughtful way that made me think i wanted to her her answer to the interesting question.after a pause,she did not look directly at the camera,but directly at the presenter.
did you know,she said,that there are atoms in your body.the presenter laughed.of course,he said.what else would my body be made of?
well,said the scientist,and i did not need to look at the television screen to know she was smiling.do you know where those atoms came from?well,said the presenter.and he did not say anything else.i snickered from my place in the armchair and the scientist smiled again.
the most ASTOUNDING fact that i have ever known,she said,is not a fact, specifically,but the story of every atom on this planet.the ones that make up the grass and the sea and the sand and the forests and the human body. these atoms came from stars.
the presenter sat forward and so did i.
stars,continued the scientist,are mortal like humans.they die, and, in their later years,are unstable.it pains me a little to say it, but a star’s death is far more dramatic than a human’s.is it? asked the presenter. the scientist was looking at him still,and i felt strongly as though i was listening in on a very private conversation.
it is, the scientist nodded. the stars i am referring to, she said,collapsed and exploded a very long time ago, and scattered their enriched guts across the entire universe.here, she paused, and her words caught in my mind in a way that made me wonder if she was a scientist or a poet.their guts, she said whilst sipping from a glass of water, were splayed across every inch of time and space.these guts were made of the fundamental ingredients of life and existence.carbon and oxygen and nitrogen and hydrogen and all the rest of it.all in the bellies of these stars that flung themselves across the universe in protest when it was their time to die.
and then? asked the presenter.the scientist’s lips quirked upwards. and then, she said.it all became parts of gas clouds.ones that condense and collapse and will form our next solar systems - billions of stars with billions of planets to orbit them.and these planets have the ingredients of life sewed into the very fabric of their own lives.
so, she said, smile still playing on her lips - where do your atoms come from?from those gas clouds, said the presenter.no, said the scientist.from those stars.
every atom, every molecule, every inhale and exhale and beat of your heart, is traceable to the crucibles that cooked life itself.and you are sitting here and so am i and so are your viewers at home,and we’re all in the universe, aren't we? yes, said the presenter.but i’ll tell you what’s even better, the scientist smiled wider.the universe is in us. your atoms and my atoms and your camera men’s atoms came from those stars. you’re connected and relevant without even having to try. you are made of stardust and the fabric of the universe.that is the most ASTOUNDING fact i can tell you.the presenter smiled and the scientist smiled wider and i smiled too,
and later i switched the channel to something less scientific and wondered if i should feel small,tiny and insignificant in relation to the stars that collapsed and exploded andthrew themselves everywhere.and that is how my mother found me,sitting on the sofa.and she asked me what waswrong,and i said,nothing. i’m just a lot smaller than stars are.my mother is very literal woman. as such, her natural response was:of course you’re not. don’t you see how small stars are?that’s only from a distance,i said.maybe you’re looking at yourself from a distance too, she said.
and she left the room and it is years later now, but i still think about the scientist and what she said and my mother and what she said and i still see the presenter on television.and i still think that the stars are very big but now i think,they are in me.so i am big too.
"We have a choice, to live, or to exist." -H.S.