It is 2:32 AM and I’ve just come in from watching the Taurid Meteor shower. It is a chilly 51 degrees so I didn’t stay out too long but I did see one meteor before bed and two just a few minutes ago. It is also easy to wake up if you watch scary YouTube videos just before bed since you won’t be sleeping well in the first place.
Looking up at the vast expanse of space is an incredible experience; it is at these times I wish I didn’t live so close to a city with all its light pollution. It also is a great reminder of how incredible and mysterious life really is. We simply don’t know why were are here, what created everything around us or what is really going on. Contrast this with the article I read just before going outside on through a friend’s link on Facebook which asked the question what drives men to buy expensive watches. How insignificant and silly things we usually preoccupy ourselves with when compared to the vast expanse of the universe, the miracle of life and all around us if we pay attention.
Looking at the stars and the unknown made me wonder if our entire planet is akin to a cosmic zoo for advanced civilizations. To a tier two or three civilization I would imagine they consider humanity as inferior as humanity considers the monkeys at the local zoo. We adorn ourselves with shiny rocks and baubles to show status, we group up into tribes and start wars with the other tribes who do things differently from us. Yet, we consider ourselves advanced simply because we can send machines into space when other life forms here on Earth cannot. We like to believe we are descended from the gods and the gods look like us. It would only take one visit from an alien civilization to smash this illusion yet the thought that we are superior would still be impossible to let go of for most of our species. For many, belief in religion would probably intensify due to the extreme fear and discomfort such a visit would suddenly impose. Humans want to be in control and so we build nuclear bombs, we ask the gods for favors and we turn a blind eye to science, to reason whenever a new discovery contradicts our tightly held beliefs.
The truth is all these things we believe give us control are just a mirage. We fly through space on a pretty rock which could be wiped out with one asteroid strike and when science reminds us of this – like it did recently with “Spooky” the asteroid – we ignore it or do not contemplate on it with more than a quick glance and passing thought before returning to the triviality of a sports score or how much money a watch cost. Life and our the fact that we are conscious is magical, a divine dream, that we do not understand.
It was a warm Halloween night when I was a teenager that I looked up in the sky and saw a shooting star that now I know to have been a Taurid Meteor. A magical moment forever entrenched in my memory and looking up at the sky tonight I’m reminded of how my life is just a flicker when compared to the cosmos – just as a meteor is only a pebble that lasts for only a second or indeed all of humanity is nothing more than a quick flash that seemingly wants to burn itself out.
It is now 3:02 AM – the witching hour – and I’ll return to my triviality. I cannot comprehend the greater meaning or know where, what or why I am. I can only hope I at least am offering some advanced being a modicum of amusement as they look down on the pretty blue zoo called Earth.