The Egg


egg050From Happiness.org
“The Egg,” a thought provoking story by Andy Weir…

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me.

“What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said.  “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said.  “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right.”

“Well, all religions are right in their own way,” I said “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void.

“Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders.

“Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold.  You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.  You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me.

“But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”
“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.” And I sent you on your way.

egg4

map of the known Universe

The Craftsman


zimsculpt

We have grown to be in love with our thoughts.  We have chained ourselves to our intellect, prostrate before it, and worship it as the ultimate.  We groom it like a show pony, display it like a precious gem, yet we rarely see the truth of this treasure.  It’s no treasure at all.

The intellect is not a sparkling diamond.  It’s nothing but a hammer and chisel.  It chips away at memories of experiences past and engraves them upon our reality as if they were a great testament to who we are.  But the intellect is only a tool busily engraving dreams upon dust; a tool of the mind.  It has no eyes to see the dreams and dust blown away on any errant breeze.  It’s too busy chiselling.

We have grown to love our emotions.  Not only to love them but to fear them as well.  Here we seek our thrills,  Leaping from the cliff of love in hopes our parachute will open, exploding in a rush of anger to feel the burning flames engulf us, weeping cool tears to the strains of music so sweet it almost drives us to madness we delight in the aliveness.  Swept up in the dance we seek reassurance that this is who we are.

But the emotions are not who we are.  Emotions are the little chips of stone that patter to the ground as the intellect chisels away, the ringing of the hammer on chisel.  They’re but the sounds of its labor.

When we put the chisel down the song of its work goes silent and a sudden and unexpected enquiry arises like the sun burning through a cloud:  “Who drives the hammer and holds the chisel?  Who hears its song and watches the chips fall?”

This is the moment you become the Craftsman.  The hammer, chisel and chaff are in your hands but they are not who you are.  They are merely the tools and by-products of the timeless observer endlessly creating its own reality.  This is the moment you realize you can put the tools down and rest.

The Stranger’s Eyes


She stands before me.  No smile graces her lips.  Her face is as slack and unmoving as death:  first young, then aged, the years morphing through a kaleidoscopic march of time to go around and come around again.   But her eyes shine with unwavering life.  It anchors my gaze.  My curiosity sticks to it like glue.

What does she want?  There’s a question lying somewhere behind the irises, deep down, resting on the bottom of the black pools of the pupils.  I can almost see it there, some pearlescent sheen reflecting the beacon light of my interest.

Then a familiar voice brushes my mind, a faraway breath whispering, “Who am I?  Do you dare?”

I study her face again.  Nothing in her expression has changed, but the gauntlet has been laid.  Something hitches in my chest:  a fluttering.  A desperate little bird clings to the cage bars of my ribs seeking a hasty escape.  Is it excitement?  Anticipation?  Fear?

A deep breath releases the bird in a sigh and I briefly watch it go before returning to my quest.  I do want to swim.  Those black waters seem calmer now, more inviting.  Less dangerous.  I dip a toe meaning only to test but the water swallows me and down I go like a stone, my curiosity lending its weight as I plummet.

I search for the question I know is there.  I am diving for pearls after all.  The answer shines like a flashlight guiding my way.  And there is the pearl.  I see it just as the answer-light swallows it and it’s gone.  Then the pearl-answer-light swallows the darkness, every last drop, as if parched from an unfathomable thirst.  I rise to the surface without so much as a twitch as the depths and the surface have risen and descended to meet each other:  to become one.  I find it all right where it began.

I’m standing in front of the mirror again.  My reflection still gazes serenely back at me.  The question is satisfied.  We aren’t quite the strangers we were.  But this time we smile.

Tiny Wonders


“I searched for myself in the mountain but found it in a grain of sand.” — Jean Mishra.

This is a photo of sand magnified 250 times through the microphotographic talents of Gary Greenberg.

Grains of sand magnified 250 times

Dr. Greenberg is an artist, inventor and scientist.  He’s devoted his life to revealing the unspeakable and delicate beauty of nature.

Rosemary magnified 125 times

He earned a Ph.D. in biomedical research and went on to invent high-definition, 3-dimensional light microscopes and was issued 18 different U.S. patents.

Rose zindanfel wine magnified 300 times

He began his career as a photographer and filmmaker.  His work includes the first Superman movie.  He transformed human pancreatic cancer cells into the planet Krypton.

Sugar magnified 125 times

What appears to be a colorful modern abstract sculpture is sugar magnified 125 times.

A basil leaf magnified 125 times

This dew covered field is a basil leaf magnified 125 times.

Dragon fruit magnified 125 times

A fantasy amethyst cave is really a dragon fruit magnified 125 times.

A strawberry magnified 125 times

An amber jewel atop a ruby mountain is a strawberry magnified 125 times.

Grain of sand magnified 125 times

A star is a grain of sand.

Sand magnified 250 times

Dr. Gary Greenberg has shown us the beauty of the universe isn’t just in the grandeur of it’s vastness, but is equally in its minutiae.  He’s shown us there is tremendous beauty in the things so easily glanced over.  Art is everywhere, even in the dust.

See Dr. Greenberg’s pictures of the moon dust collected during the Apollo 11 moon mission here.

Moon dust