I spent the weekend camping at Redfeather. On Dead Man’s Creek, to be exact, which is in the area of Redfeather Lakes in Northern Colorado. That is where I go. I have been there almost every year of my life. There are pictures of me there as a baby. When I was a kid we used to go there four or five times a summer. It was my father’s spot too; he went there as a boy. It’s a family spot, is what it comes down to. The Magill side’s. The Coloradoan side. Yep.
I love it there. It’s so beautiful and serene. And then we make fires and eat steak and ride the ATV. Which I admit, fucks the serene part all up. But it’s a blast, and besides, my dad works hard; ain’t he got a right to use our National Forests too? 😉
My favorite thing about camping is the nights. Sleeping out under the stars. It’s kind of my private time. My time with the Cosmos. I always try to Ponder when I’m staring out into bejeweled infinity, and boy, sometimes I do get to thinking! As I was sitting on the porch at my Uncle’s cabin last Saturday I was thinking this:
To learn about the world is to live in it more fully. To learn is to experience meaning and beauty where there was none.
I was sitting on the porch thinking about all those stars hurtling towards me or away from me at terrific speeds, millions of kilometers per hour this way and that. I thought to myself: Because the universe is expanding, most of those stars are moving away from us. Isn’t that sad? What if we never catch up? As I thought about the stars running from us I was filled with a sense of urgency that I knew to be my humanity rising up from that deep place where it lurks. It–that is, my own humanity–seethed up when I least wanted it. Even as I was trying to feel my connection to the whole universe, I was overcome by the urge to acquire the whole universe, to posess each thing by knowing it, and let nothing get away. Curious monkeys we.
When I look out at the stars I do not try to ponder. I do what I have done ever since I read Ender’s Game. I pretend that I am looking down, instead of up. I pretend that I am stuck to a rock with some kind of glue, like gravity, floating upside-down through space. Sometimes I imagine the rock is as small as the planet of the Little Prince, and sometimes I try to imagine the immensity of the Earth above me. I’m always grateful that I don’t fall off.
On Saturday, in between looking down at the stars and feeling grateful, I was thinking about all these things that I didn’t always know and feeling that my world is richer because I took a couple classes and learned them. It’s just a small thing, you know? So what if I can use the word “gibbous” in a sentence? Doesn’t make me Einstein, but it is nice. Some of you also have this knowledge. Some of you can use the word “gibbous.” Go ahead, use it if you can. Wasn’t that nice? Some of you can look at the moon and point to the Sun with confidence that you are pointing in the right direction, although it is night. Or whatever it is you have learned to do (and there are zillions of perfectly good things to know), isn’t it nice to be able to do that?