The Prompter Room

For Friday, January 22, 2016:

 

“The universe is not made of atoms.  It’s made of tiny stories.”

Lifehack meme on Facebook

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.”

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Maybe it’s the almost-full moon and the five-planet alignment in the Northern Hemisphere, but I have Carl Sagan on my mind this morning.  More than almost anyone else, he was responsible for helping me discover that the universe is so much more than we can see or think we know.

Sagan’s excitement was contagious.  When I first watched his TV series ‘Cosmos,’ I didn’t understand a lot of the science behind it.  So I read his book by the same title.  That helped a lot.  Every time I watch the series or read the book now, I understand a little bit more.  But I was okay with not knowing.  I still am, thanks in part to Sagan, because I know one day we will all become part of the story.

What I liked best about Sagan, his shows, and his book was that he was okay with not knowing some things.  He seemed to love the possibilities, the mysteries of the universe that aren’t explainable by science or theology or mathematics, fully as much as – if not more than – he did the certainties.  He was enthralled by the discoveries that were and are out there waiting for us.  Every time something new has been and is discovered since his death, I think of Carl Sagan smiling wide, his eyes shining with wonder and expectation, out there somewhere in the universe he so loved, watching all the stories unfold.

I think often of the stories he could tell us now.  And I ask myself, how can I learn to see all that is around me, above me, below me, with Carl Sagan’s eyes – eyes that are always open to mystery, wonder, awe, possibility in the farthest reaches of the universe down to the tiniest atoms beneath our feet.

Somehow, I believe, we ‘know’ all of those particles around us and among us, above and below us.  At least some of the particles within us do.  And when they recognize each other, I imagine them smiling in their own ways with recognition.  And somehow Carl Sagan’s transcendent smile is reflected in theirs and maybe – just maybe – in a few of our words.

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