Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
I was talking to my friend about how Baby S is already six months old, and about how it seems both as if she only just got here and as if she's always been here. We talked about her brother, Little G, who is growing so fast he'll soon need a different pseudonym, and how he's quickly becoming more boy than toddler, and how even three and a half years in, the same feeling of always-but-already hangs on his life. I remember their births like yesterday; I've already forgotten so much.
I've been thinking about whether it means something that the children in our lives often feel this way, this always-but-already way. Those of you who know me know that the conservation of energy is an important part of my semi-scientific spirituality, and that's definitely been tumbling around in my head with this question. At the same time, there's the fact that one of Graham's uncles, one of the ones I knew best because he lived nearby, passed away this week. He had been in hospice since Christmas, so it was a matter of waiting, a strange reversal of the baby phone. It's something I've been lucky enough to not have a lot of experience with yet.
The quote above is taken from Albert Goldbarth's poem The Sciences Sing a Lullabye, and it, alongside Aaron Freeman's piece, are things I go back to quite frequently. Although I value them, I struggle with belief in goodness and kindness and hope. When I'm in my darkest moments, I find peace from verifiable science. We can prove the conservation of energy--all the atoms in your body have always been here and will always be here, will be dirt and stars and dust. Stone, too, comes and goes. It's the unique combinations of atoms building cells and chemicals and rapid-fire electricity that makes us who we are, and in this way, we are all made up of things that are always-but-already. Whether our consciousness continues in any way is an impossible question, but it is fundamentally true that the stuff of us is always. I don't have to believe it, when it's hard to believe anything. It's something knowable.
I used to follow a guided meditation that included a segment where listeners were instructed to take a deep breath and imagine what it would feel like if every cell in your body were independently feeling joy. I always imagined it something like a stadium crowd doing the wave; a warm, wriggling brightness flowing from my head to my toes. I don't use that meditation anymore, but sometimes I think about that segment, that sensation of joy: all the atoms currently hanging out in the shape of me, doing a shimmy in silver shoes and then joyfully quieting to rest. Layer on layer, down and down.
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