Lessons from the planetarium, about time and universe

Almost a year ago, when I was living in Santiago, Chile, I got a chance to get to know an American friend who studies Astronomy working in European Southern Observatory (ESO).  We exchanged our experiences, letting each another enter where we worked. I showed him around UN Economic Commission campus, and we celebrated the moment taking pictures on the top of Caracol. Such a modern and antisismic building I always adored, and what it provided us to sightsee the city landscape was something far from the mere reality. Then I happened to step on the Observatory campus, where decorated all walls with photos of stars. Can I call that postmodern, for the seek of stars always flies higher than what we have achieved in this modern world? That exchange was a pure nonverbal discussion, just as Scrates and Aristotle had on their time, about where lays the truth between the solid ground or the unshaded up-world. I was pointing the earth, as the phrase ‘May the peace prevails on the earth’, and he was pointing the universe, as the mystery of the origin of all beginnings. Later he earned scholarship to study in Germany, so he left one of the countries that counts the most sofisticated observatories located in Atacama desert. 

And now, after one year later. I’m living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Life itself is such a mystery that I can’t rationalize nor control. Who would’ve thought that I would be here working on my master degree? Yet, I’m here stepping argentine soil to harden it every moment. Coming to planetarium wasn’t my intention. It was just a recommendation. As I entered this dome of planetarium today, the memory flashed back to one year time ahead where I met that American friend who went to Germany. I stepped in the dome with some German friends today. Characters change but the pattern stays same. But still, characters and pattern interact between them, creating new possibilities for the future. Before the dome projected the unshaded universe up above us, it was tagged that ESO sponsored the video and projection. When I saw that ESO logo, the last year and this year got overlapped in my head. 

Even, wasn’t it Heraclitus who declared that no man ever steps twice into the same river? No, I don’t think we can. Universe is moving constantly and we don’t even stand at the same spot every different second. We just delude ourselves that we can reproduce the same pattern than that of past, overlapping the past and the present moment, just as what overlapped in my head today. But at the same time, I understand that this overlapping makes us to see the river, the pattern of small changes. Yes, even though the last year and this year have nothing in common, I creat the commonness to mark the pattern: the pattern of life such as love, friendship, care and self identity. Maybe this is why all of us eager to celebrate the birthday: to make ourselves sure about the life keeps going on this miraculous way (well, critically, it’s a nonsense that birthday repeats every year for the only birthday is marked ONCE on the time when one gets born). 

But no need to think critical. Maybe it’s time to embrace all those with empathy, knowing that it’s just a wish to jump back in to the river again and again. It’s the wish to live, to life. At least we celebrate every moment with joy. It’s also the fear of death and of the change. We don’t want to believe every moment the river changes, for that change implies that we are also changing every moment rushing to our own disposure from life. Why not, the universe is just a sum of gas and dust, and so we are. From the dust we came and to the dust we arrive. So in the meanwhile, we enjoy the very change itself.

After the visit to planetarium, I felt gratitude and confidence for I know for a fact that I’m surrounding by all these smiles and loves. Yes, shame and indifference also follow. Well, the one exists from the existance of the other. At the very beginning the logo said ‘let it be light’, so be light and darkness. This coexistence demonstrate in every mythology and religion from the occidental text, such as Bible, to the oriental text, such as Taosim (in this case, so be yang and yin). Anyway I grabbed new possibilities today, meeting new people and being connected with them. At least, the circle is getting bigger, as I was told to plan out for this Sunday with them. Small change it is, and I do enjoy. I’ll love again, I’ll play again, I’ll work again and I’ll live again. Well then, repetitive birthday parties are on again.

 

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