Words of uncertainty apply.
Probably, and maybe perhaps,
as proportions with numbers
inconceivable and unimaginable,
describe vastness where nearby, local galaxies, about fifty-one,
are or were within a mere
three megaparsecs. So close.
Suicidal giants like Tadpole, Black Eye,
Sunflower, and Cigar. Our nearest
neighbor, Andromeda, plans to crash
our party in four or five billion years.
Like the cosmos,
this Milky Way is mostly nothing,
toying with conversions of
angular momentum, universal
collisions of astronomy’s galactic
darlings. The realm of nebulae,
halfway to the edge of the known
universe, whatever that is.
Look both ways to search for a “small, quaint, tidy universe.”
But science “never ends.”
Mind the gaps for a “single ultimate truth.” (Quotes from Cosmos by Carl Sagan)
Universal Death patiently awaits
each, forever it’s permanently there
welcoming every kind of life over eons
it’s always been the same, birth before Death,
if birthed at all, and some sort of demise
for both the stupid and the wise.
The universe knows each speck of dust,
each one of us for thousands of years
and will do the same for thousands hence.
We may count the minutes, hours, and days,
but in the end Death only counts the ways.
If moments when my eyes saw you looking my way,
when no words are said, if expressions were
simple knowing, then we were of one mind, one heart.
We don’t care what this is, we want it to be among
the destined moments when two people in the universe
(only two) become one and know that deep down
secrets abound as we silently plot our escape,
away from this life and pretense and toward those
forbidden passions that boil up and desire calls us
to the edge of where we want to be within our reality,
but we fear to go. The deepest of truth takes us far
and we feel instantly what we both know as truth. Eyes.
Not words. No promises. No damage. No fright.
Just connection on a level and in a separate place
we never admit to anyone but us, the driving power of it.
Do we dare to say it? Do we admit truth? Do we
acknowledge such universal profundity of two specs of dust?
The hidden and forever forbidden moments of love
that will only be if, and if, and if knowing is truth.
If we look both ways, we will see.
If we mind the gaps, we will feel.
If we know love, we know truth.
I don’t think there is a rule, but I’ve read that poems should be about specific things. The universe isn’t specific. So how do I write about it and be specific? I decided to key on a quote from Aristotle: “The universe exists for, and shines through, the particular.” My attempt was to twist that concept into living in the present.
Suffering Universal By Bill Reynolds
What means the vast universe?
From the largest to the smallest,
It’s the every and the all, interspersed.
There’s more, and we’re on the call list.
Where thoughts drift among the unknowable
It’s all there. Is our significance so minute?
Dare we, as we might; is it so uncontrollable?
Or shall we focus on the more acute?
A far-off star explodes. Planets vanish.
Did you hear it? Did you see it?
Stars in the sky, but maybe not.
We see the light. Is it still a vantage?
Death. Suffering. Pain. Sadness.
Broken bodies. Broken hearts.
Do you hear them? Do you see them?
It’s all there. Should we care?
Are my feet on earth? Can my senses touch reality?
The universe is there, but also here.
Not for its own sake, but for each of us.
Let’s focus on the small, while aware of it all.
I engage with my personal
Real world life as it truly can be.
Let me be in the universal here and now.
Until more of the changes happen,
Until the stars no longer shine,
Until we know it all,
Until we hear the universe breathe.
Right here; right now, bloom where you’re planted.
But, look both ways and mind the gaps.
Kismet (kiz-met) means destiny, or fate; or a power that is believed to control what happens in the future. The word kismet come to us from Turkish, originally from the Arabic word qisma (keese-mah), meaning portion or lot. There is so much poetry about, or related to, kismet that it seems to be its own type within a genre.
Specks: Coincidence meets Kismet By Bill Reynolds
Among the billions traveling through space…
Two specks of dust without direction or purpose,
None aware of another, simple lifeless vectors of eternity
on pointless, unrelated journeys to nowhere.
Each born of events eons past in both time and distance,
mindless entities uncaring, without purpose or reason.
Unguided, random, alone, on endless journeys to
nothingness, absent of all consciousness, awareness, or
desire in the vast universe of both
loving and frightening utter insignificance.
They do not know, do not feel, do not see, do not care.
Mindless and might be as well, not to exist at all.
Set apart in time and distance, spirits within–
Still unfulfilled, unknowing of self, unknowing of others.
Closer they loom but continue to wander,
thru time and thru space with nothing to ponder.
Then a fire starts to burn. There is something.
A light. A spark. A slowing from forever’s pointlessness.
Slowly, one at a time, a special day, each glides to a stop…
With spirit and magic, of others around they’re now more aware.
Spirit knows life and begins to evolve,
with wonders and mysteries yet to resolve.
They notice things now, a rhythm, a beat they can hear;
There’s movement within, fluid awareness begins.
There are noises and smells, they feel things
And notice more, it’s like nothing before.
Now being, now joining,
Each has become, part of life here on earth.
Each morphs into a part of the soul of a child.
Each has one life and each grows to a person…
with love and with needs, and all that should follow.
What was that fire? Where did it start?
Both still in the universe, but no longer apart.
Each gradually feels more awake, more abiding,
Each strives on and on, to be with one who is living.
People and places and sights and sounds.
Emotions and tastes and the hearing of life.
The specks found common goals, one mission in life,
to find something missing, the whole of it all.
Through the eyes of their hosts, each speck meets the other.
Instantly their kismet arrives, as love for all their lives.
Their kismet has sent them to be as they are,
from that moment on, they’re forever together.
Now fully aware of why they are here,
the hosts of the specks become a great couple.
In love and now bonded together as one,
they move through this life, both sharing a fate.
A journey of eons with circumstance shared…
the past has been long, their future’s eternity.
Has coincidence brought two lovers together?
Or was their kismet at work without a conclusion?
The humans may pass, but the specks live forever.
Their love will go on, into ever and ever.
What is our kismet?
Seek your destiny — but look both ways, and mind the gaps.
The universe is important. Click here to learn all you need to know,
in about four minutes. It’s well done and funny.
From the tiniest thing to the vast secrets of the universe, what will humans ever know? Will anyone ever correctly proclaim that all knowledge has been discovered and may be known or available to everyone? I doubt it.
Science helps us understand our natural world better. But, science provides information only through descriptions from observations. With science, we may understand better what an earth quake is, or how to grow more soy beans, but ultimately the answers we receive from research are observations.
Microscopes, telescopes, laboratories, and other equipment for tests and measurements are among the tools used to make these observations. Yesterday’s scientific conclusions lead us to today’s information, and then to the changes we will read about tomorrow. It was scientific observation that convinced us the sun, stars, and planets revolved around the earth. It was also science that convinced us that was not the case.
The discoveries of science change. Does truth ever change? When I look around at our natural world, I see is what humans have done. Everything I see, while either part of nature or taken from it, was placed, caused, or permitted by humans—to a point. Other life forms may make their mark, but that will last only if humans permit it. When we don’t allow nature to progress or we interfere, it can be disastrous due to our limited knowledge. It may be science, but we don’t know everything and we can only explain so much.
Sensing and Nature
While nature is everywhere, my senses respond more strongly outdoors, in unfamiliar surroundings. I notice things less in my usual, everyday world. Change awakens my senses, whereas routine numbs them. Walking along a forest trail during a gentle, but persistent, rain provides stimulation that rejoins my surroundings with my own basic nature. It feels so right.
Seeing the trail, the roots of the magnificent trees, the green vegetation bouncing and dancing with falling raindrops, I feel aware and connected with the essence of life. It’s all here with me: sky, water, rich aromatic soil, and scree giving softness to my footsteps. Nature paints portraits of life and movement. I see how moisture mingles with the soil to send nutrients of life to plants and to quench thirsty animals, of which I am one.
Hearing the rain mesmerizes me as it falls where it will, on the leaves of trees and brush, onto the boulders and earth, and into the growing puddles and flowing streams. This is the sound of natural life – earth as it should be. The rustling sounds of birds and animals is alerting, as life deals in with nature’s wet gifts. And the rain. The glorious rain.
Feeling the soft, spongy earth beneath each step, I look down to see how the lovely wet soil now clings to my touch. I feel the rain pecking at me as it does upon the flowers. Animals respond to the natural bathing as a refreshing cleansing.
My touch to the soft moss hugging tightly to the trees is a pleasant reminder of life on life, the natural interdependence within nature’s home. Against my face, and over my entire body, the rain penetrates cloths to caress my skin. I become one with the flora. I am refreshed, another being, pleased with our universe.
I can taste the freshness of the day. While rain on my head and face washes into my eyes, other drops find their way to my mouth, adding salt to the taste – the salt of the earth. I belong here.
A forest petrichor is the most pleasant of scents following rain. As the sounds and sights change with the gradually ceasing rain, and the forest begins to release the magical and glorious aroma of nature at work; life flourishes. If there is a heaven, it’s right here, right now, with me. I feel completely connected to nature. I yearn for this life, as it should be. I know this is life.
Awareness of Belonging
I become aware of the cosmic interconnectedness of everything. I know I have my place, fitting in with everything in the universe. The vastness of the cosmos finds the path and weaves its pattern through space, through time, and through me to the tiniest speck of galactic dust.
While science can provide words, descriptions, and explanations for everything that I sensed during my inspired walk in the forest rain, nothing can explain the deep, soulful feelings I experience when the vastness of nature communes with me. Conscious awareness.
Our senses perceive the environment as we discover nature and life. Our sixth sense is that of belonging to the Universe.
Look both ways, discover the gaps, feel where we fit in.
The Pew Research Center, in the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, asked self-identified atheists how often they shared their views on gods and religion with religious people.
Nine percent said they did so at least weekly. Two-thirds said they seldom or never discuss their religious views with religious people. That may be changing as secularism becomes more acceptable. On line, these discussions often take the form of Q&A sessions.
Here are eleven sample questions that I promised to blog about. I Bogarted the questions from a variety of internet sources, but the responses are mine.
Why don’t you believe in a god? This is a difficult one to answer without appearing rude or offensive. The bottom-line, and most simple answer is that there’s no proof.
Are you really an atheist? Kind of insulting, but easy to answer. Atheists should not be drawn in by the temptation to be sarcastic. Leave out really from the question, or be young enough to excuse, and the answer is there.
Are you absolutely sure there is not (are no) a god (gods)? The problem here is that the subject has now changed from belief to certainty. Absolute certainty of anything normally requires abundant proof of some sort – often, repeatable and testable evidence. My honest answer is no. I wonder what percentage of believers are absolutely sure of what they say they believe.
What happens when we die? Why would anyone ask this of an atheist? But again, easy for me to answer. I don’t know.
However, I still love this song. It’s fun and uplifting. Hear it Here (The Spirit In the Sky). Norm is something of a one-hit-wonder, but he wrote and sang a good one way back then. Interesting side note: while this is clearly a Christian song, Norman Greenbaum, to this day (age 73), is an observant Jew.
What if you’re wrong? That depends. Wrong about there being supernatural beings? Is that any different than being wrong about which religion, or which god is real or true? Again, I have no idea.
Without a god, where do you get your morality? First, I have some morality. Second, the same place you get yours. Morality comes from learning and being human. How often are immoral atrocities committed in the name of a god? Where do those offenders get their morality?
How does life have any meaning without a god? My life has meaning just as yours does. Mine may have more meaning to me than someone who believes they will be in Heaven or Paradise. I believe that this world is all there is for us (right here and now). As for the universe, it is the same but we only have access this part of it: Earth.
What about the love and appreciation of nature and art? We love nature as much as any believers, maybe more than some. I love art, read and write about it, and consider myself an artist. While atheists may not see nature as the work of a creator or supreme being, they have the same, if not more, appreciation of nature than believers do.
Where did the universe come from? This is where I might begin to lose it. Seriously? Do I have to explain the origin of the universe simply because I don’t believe there is a god to have created it? I don’t need to know and neither do you. Read Carl Sagan or something, then pick one of the theories. I was not there when it happened, no matter what my grandchildren think.
What about miracles? Have you ever noticed how the number of miracles has reduced as methods to record them has increased? I don’t think there are supernatural beings out there to bring about miracles. Unexplained things have always happened and perhaps science never will explain everything. At times in the past, believers decided that unexplainable events were witchcraft, or from the devil, and not miracles from a good deity or spirit.
Why do you hate God? Do you hate Santa Claus? Or Krishna? Or Thor? Zeus, Jupiter, and Saturn are all gods. If you don’t believe in them, is it because you hate them? I’ve known believers who were angry with their god. I always thought that was awesome. Being angry with an omnipotent being has to be special. I guess their god wasn’t doing a good job.
I admit that face-to-face, such questioning events are rare, especially following someone’s commitment to atheism. But they happen and I think they are fair enough.
Personally, I don’t see why people shouldn’t discuss religion and atheism (or agnosticism or humanism, or any such subject), if they want. I realize two problems come into play. Human emotion and the need to defend turf, opinions, friends, or in some cases, a god.
Criticizing religion in general, or any religion specifically, is taboo. Oddly, that taboo is not applied equally to lack of religion or atheism. While insults and criticism may fly, I’ll wager that no atheist has marked someone for death because they criticized, or drew a picture of, anyone.
I hope that we can find ways to exchange ideas, discuss beliefs, and venture into better understanding of our diverse and complex world. I once had a man tell me this, “I don’t even know anyone who is not Christian.” How sad.