I’m driving home from a tutoring session, looking forward to the quiet of the evening even though I should probably grade A Doll’s House journals or Ceremony analysis work. I have plenty to do.
Instead, I am thinking about warm socks, fuzzy pajamas, chocolate, puzzles, and warm blankets while doing nothing. Just nothing.
Because I have been going non-stop and am worn and just want to stop and do a whole lot of nothing.
As I am driving through the chaos of the Wal Mart parking lot, NPR’s program All Things Considered transitions into the next story, a celebration that today the first recorded gravitational waves were confirmed.
I’m not certain what gravitational waves are. I am certainly no Sir Isaac Newton, although, according to the headlines, this is more of an Einstein-theory.
Regardless, I hear something about black holes, gravity, and excited scientists and I am hooked. Turning up the volume on the radio while watching traffic to make my right turn, I listen as the journalist introduces a scientist who then introduces the world to the sound of gravitational waves.
Snow-white radio static that has no real color other than what my imagination provides.
And in that static…a droplet.
More static, as though waves of energy and sound mingle and part for another droplet.
The scientist and journalist begin talking and the sounds of gravitational waves are suspended as the scientist eagerly describes that gravitational waves sound like water droplets.
The gravitational waves were created when two black holes merged, this great cosmic consummation..a ballet in the stars. The featured image for this post is a simulated of “gravitational waves coming from two black holes as they spiral together.” Note, the image and this quote comes from NPR.
The convergence of these black holes occurred 1.3 billion light years from Earth….and I’m not certain if that means that the merging of these black holes happened 1.3 billion light years ago. I’m just not that smart enough to quite understand it.
And, in some respects, I really don’t care.
I think I understood that the black holes are essentially flat and that the waves are something like a percentage or a proton wide.
I don’t remember. I don’t understand.
I just know that I’m fascinated and in love. Because scientists aren’t even certain that black holes exist but the gravitational waves that have been registered means that black holes should exist.
I keep on thinking about the sound of the gravitational waves, a slow, steady water droplet sound, like water pooling in the s-curve of a pipe, forming into a tear, wobbling briefly, and then falling, into a pool of its fellow water droplets.
Ripples spill outward, quick undulations of existence and vitality and life.
Measurements smaller than the smallest particles of life, something I didn’t even know was feasible.
But it is. And that’s what makes this just simply wonderful.
That far out there in space, far beyond anything my imagination or my ability to even perceive or conceive or understand, two black holes danced around one another, this beautiful waltz, this cosmic intimacy, and became one. And somehow, despite the fact that I really don’t understand much of what I heard, I still felt like I did understand, even if in a poetic level.
In some respects, this almost validates my faith in God, the fact that just because I can’t see Him doesn’t mean that I still can’t perceive Him.
I spend hours staring at the stars. I sometimes mix up the constellations, but I can tell you their stories and how the different people or gods and goddesses or creatures ended up in the heavens. I like to think that the Pleiades is a baby carriage and that Pegasus is a box of stars.
I love the nebulas, especially the Horsehead Nebula. I love the words and language of astronomy: a red giant sitting on a horizontal branch, dwarf giants or something like that.
I love that I am living in a simultaneous moment as something that occurred 1.3 billion light years away. Something that no matter how much I might stretch out my hand and try to touch the sky, it will be nothing more than a fleeting wave of energy that pulses around me, by me, through me.
Robert Fulghum once wrote about how dust can be dead skin cell particles. But that the molecular structure of dust is essentially the same as astronomical compounds. I can’t remember and I’m not certain in which book this nugget of beauty is hidden.
But I love the idea that my body is cosmic space dust, a nebula is within me, a spiral galaxy lives within my soul.
At this moment, I feel as though I could shed the bonds gravity has that seals my feet to the Earth, stare at the “second star to the right,” and then just….