Today was downright exhausting, and my hour long walk along the river left me dripping and drooping. It wasn’t different than most days, same time, same place, and the usual 756 miles, according to my old friend Orion, who was watching from his usual perch, unseen, as he prefers it by day. When I was done, I started to complain about how I felt, when Orion interjected, “Just be thankful you’re not in Florida today, its hotter by far, and your usual walk would have covered a full 930 miles today, and there you’d have reason perhaps to complain just a bit.” Heading home to shower, I called out to Orion, “You know you are one heavenly pain in the ass.” “Yeah,” he replied, “that’s what Artemis said.”
It is far less a matter of space for we have that in profusion if mostly always beyond reach, but unnecessary anyway given our pervasive fear of being alone while always trying to define our particular uniqueness. The universe has a vastness we can never hope to grasp and so we turn inward, where space is constrained, and we can imagine impenetrable borders that exist solely within the mind. But the dimension that gives rise to fear and loathing is time, for it despite its vastness, is always finite and always, in our deluded eyes shrinking as the universe expands, and we know there is a point when time becomes a deathly singularity.
The universe is more vast than we could begin to contemplate forty billion galaxies of forty billions stars, thrust out a child, an aged one bent by time mothers with children in tow, giants standing above with names belying their stature. Sitting here, pen in hand it is comforting to know there is another, and another stretching infinitely, secure in their uniqueness, in the shadow of their suns, casting words into the void.
If I ask you to bring me an atom of oxygen, where will you search for it, how will you isolate it, so that you have captured a single atom that you can bring in response to my request? It may take some time and great effort to satisfy my desire. Or you may simply smile and tell me to breathe and choose the atom I wish from the multitude you have provided.
A reflection on case 3 of Bring Me the Rhinoceros (koans).