Twenty Hours in America

More than anytime in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing.

We did not seek, nor did we provoke an assault on our freedoms and our way of life.  We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil.

Yet the true measure of a peoples’ strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive.

Forty-four people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the men’s team were killed and two others are in critical condition.

When after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out.

Ran into the fire

The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight.

They’re our students, and our teachers, and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels.

But every time we think we’ve measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.

This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard, we will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars.

God bless their memory. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

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A Sky Full of Ghosts

John: Father do you believe in ghosts?

William: Why, yes, my son.

John: You do? I would not have thought so.

William: Oh, no, not in the human kind of ghost. No not at all. But look up, my boy, and see a sky full of them.

John: The stars, father? I do not follow.

William: Every star is a sun as big, as bright as our own. Just imagine how far away from us you’d have to move the sun to make it appear as small and faint as a star.

The light from the stars travels very fast, faster than anything but not infinitely fast. It takes time for their light to reach us. For the nearest ones, it takes years. For others, centuries. Some stars are so far away, it takes eons for their light to get to Earth.

By the time the light from some stars gets here, they are already dead. For those stars, we see only their ghosts. We see their light, but their bodies perished long, long ago.

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The Feeling of Being Stuck on Earth

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It’s hard not to look at the ground as you walk.

To set your sights low, and keep the world spinning, and try to stay grounded wherever you are.

But every so often you remember to look up, and imagine the possibilities.

Dreaming of what’s out there.

Before long, you find yourself grounded once again.

Grounded in the sense of being home bound. Stuck on the planet Earth.

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Astrophe

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The more you look to the sky, the more you find yourself back on Earth, confronting certain possibilities.

It’s possible there are other names for our planet, that we will never know.

That there are constellations that feature our sun, from an angle we’ll never get to see.

That there are many other civilizations hidden beyond the veil of time, too far away for their light to ever reach us.

We dream of other worlds, and name them after our old discarded gods, and they seem almost as distant-too far to be seen with the naked eye. Only ever in artist’s renditions. Or a scattering of pixels on a monitor, with the colors tweaked to add a bit of flair.

Even our own neighborhood is impossibly vast. We’re used to showing the planets nested together-because if we drew them to scale, they’d be so far apart, they wouldn’t fit on the same page.

And even our own moon, that seems to hang so close to Earth, but still so far away that all the other planets could fit in the space between them.

It’s possible our spacesuits won’t need treaded boots ever again. That one day soon we’ll tire of wandering and move back home for good.

And we’ll get used to watching our feet as we walk, occasionally stopping to hurl a single probe into the abyss, like a message in a bottle.

Maybe it shouldn’t matter if anyone ever finds it. If nobody’s there to know we once lived here on Earth.

Maybe it should be like skipping a stone across the surface of a lake. It doesn’t matter where it ends up, It just matters that we’re here on the shore. Just trying to have fun and pass the time, and see how far it goes.

 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

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“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

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When I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and suck;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

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Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

‘The Most Astounding Fact’

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“The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth, the atoms that make up the human body, are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures.

These stars, the high-mass ones among them, went unstable in their later years. They collapsed, and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy. Guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself.

These ingredients become part of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems; stars with orbiting planets. And those planets now have the ingredients for life itself.

So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us.

When I reflect on that fact, I look up—many people feel small, because they’re small and the universe is big, but I feel big; because my atoms came from those stars. There is a level of connectivity. That is really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant. You want to feel like you’re a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you.

That is precisely what we are just by being alive.”

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~ Neil DeGrasse Tyson ~