"Tell me, what you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" --- Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
The idea that each of us co-creates of our world is not crazy. Beginning in the early 20th century, the science of quantum physics began to explore and define the idea that we affect and change the universe simply through the act of observation. That idea seems to be completely obvious, but still exists side-by-side with the really crazy idea that we are somehow separate from the universe. We are indoctrinated into this idea of separation from our earliest lives and as we live and grow, we learn to perceive ourselves as separate entities and from this comes the idea that we are in opposition to the world: that we must meet the world as an adversary.
Yet every astronomer today understands that in order for us, or anything other than the most basic element, hydrogen, to exist, it was first necessary for the elements of which we are constructed to be fused from hydrogen within the heart of a star over billions of years and then cast out into the universe in monumental explosions, to coalesce over more billions of years into the clumps of dust that eventually form planetary systems. Out of these elements, in the presence of water - more star stuff - life arose and as we become self-aware, we are the universe itself becoming self aware. For we are the universe. We are of it, in it, and as we interact with it, we change it, we create reality with each breath, each thought, each action.
Our bodies, our minds, are merely another form of the intricate dance being performed by energy as it waves and particles, endlessly interchanging its forms. What we eat, whether plant or animal, is merely a form of stored energy that we take in and then expend in the form of action or heat. We are never the same matter or energy from moment to moment. Only a continuous flow of energy from one form into another.
In this context we are truly immortal. The energy which forms the atoms, which forms the elements, which forms our bodies and allows them to take action is still the same energy which created our universe in the cataclysm we like to call the 'Big Bang'. How that energy came into being is a mystery, but I tend to think of that event and all events flowing from it as the manifestation of God. And if you follow this line of reasoning, then we are indeed God. And God is us.
Now, I am not being grandiose. I understand that the thoughts I think and the actions I take are manifest in this physical, animal body. This body exists within certain physical parameters. Through a marvelous chain of chemical processes it consumes energy and transforms that energy into itself and exudes energy from itself in other forms. Through other chemical and electromagnetic processes it joins with another life form and replicates itself, slightly altered, into an infinite variety of forms which also replicate themselves. Within this body is an entropic chemical clock which dictates that it will self destruct in time and return itself wholly into the energy wave from which it will manifest again and again through countless other forms, endlessly.... And I cannot imagine any way in which the universe could be more beautifully mysterious and wonderful.
Each of us, in our daily lives, exhibits a tendency to believe that this manifestation of form, our life as a human being is somehow central in the universe - even though this is clearly not true. This moment occurs in a remote corner of a vast universe, for an eye blink moment of cosmic time. And by this reckoning, all outcomes of our existence as human beings are equal. Whether we live poorly or well, whether we live for a day or a hundred years, whether we amass wealth or live in poverty, whether we live quietly or shape tumultuous events, all outcomes are the same. Our lives will end. Everything we know and love will be swept away.
So what? Does this idea frighten us? Do we feel insignificant or futile in the face of all of this vastness? Or, perhaps, can we see the absolute freedom that this implies? Each day, each moment of this existence is an amazing and wondrous gift. Each time we open our eyes we are greeted by a myriad of shapes, colors, textures, motion. Our ears are tuned to an infinite variety of sounds, speech, clamor, music.... The food we ingest to fuel our bodies provides pleasure as well as sustenance. Touch allows us to know our world in yet another way as it also allows us to communicate deeply with other humans and animals. We speak, we communicate ideas, we read and write, we create and build, we dance.... Everywhere, in each passing, fleeting moment there is a marvelous depth of texture. Each of these things, another wondrous manifestation of energy - the energy of the Big Bang and perhaps unknowably before....
Each moment is an opportunity: there is nothing to fear. Awaken, open your senses, pay attention to each eternal moment. Immerse yourself in the dance...