The great minds in Transportation have decided that the answer to all traffic problems is simple, you replace troublesome intersections with traffic circles, but you call them roundabouts. They know that the young and wish they were in their muscle cars will avoid them like the plague, for even they cannot defeat centrifugal force, and inertia is one thing they never lack. And for the old, the plodding, either they won’t enter the circle, or will revolve around its center like a small planet bound tightly to its star marking the center, and then only after they have paused for an indeterminite period, trying to figure out how to get in, where to get out and wishing they had called Uber to begin with. And I, behind them know, I can take this time to get in a day’s meditation counting my breath.
The truly sad thing is not that billions were spent on the voyage to our most distant planet only to discover, on arrival it wasn’t a planet at all, merely a dwarf, a near planet and yet there was no rebate for the downgrade. Life is too often like that, you want a mulligan and all they say is “no returns, no refunds.” No one asked Charon what he thought watching it all as he wandered about knowing he will remain moon for so long as there is someone, somewhere assigning names, unless he grows bored, breaks free and wanders off into being a dwarf planet all his own, after all it’s not like Styx would give a damn – better to be a moon of the first order finally and as for those billions, if you can’t leave the solar system every now and again there’s not much purpose in escaping the atmosphere.
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.
Pluto is now undecided though that does not seem to trouble many. It was one thing to be a god, albeit always thought of as lesser, for that is what happens when you rule a place no one wants to visit, like being the greeter at the door of the largest Wal-Mart in Hell. It was nice being a planet, even if no one ever visited, but that was taken away by those who now deem themselves gods, replacing all of his peers and consigning them to orbit a star that has no real name. But now they say, just perhaps, Pluto is a planet, and that has given rise to a debate, while no one asks Pluto’s opinion, and he just wants to be left alone in his dark corner of the solar system.
His is six and deeply confused, and asks questions to end that state. He wants to know if Adam and Eve had two sons, and one killed the other, where did all of the people come from? Ask your father seems and easy answer, but one he cannot accept, too easy for a mind that needs timely response. I stumble around, try to deflect, and finally admit I don’t know but that some stories cannot be taken literally. He knows what that word means, and it is a sufficient explanation for now. In a week we’ll have the conversation once again, this time not Adam, not Eve, but Shem, Ham and Japheth, and how the three sons of Noah repopulated the entire planet, and I will once again admit to my sad lack of knowledge, and silently curse the Religious School for creating the abyss into which my grandson is all to pleased to lead me.
If you set aside the small fact that earth is the only inhabitable planet it’s fairly clear the cosmos gave us a surprisingly bad deal when the cards were dealt. It’s true that Mercury and Venus got no moons, but it wouldn’t much matter for they can see a sun we can’t begin to imagine, huge and ever-present. Even Mars, bloody warrior planet it is, got two, and it got gypped in the grand scheme. From there is a wealth and you can be sure Jovians and Saturnians hardly know which way to look to see a moon rise and set. But we have the one, and it is frankly rather boring, its primary claim to fame being that it is just the right size to blot out the sun every now and again, but the sun never seems amused and quickly returns.