FINAL PREPARATION: 12 Seconds of Gazing

big sunset
Brian Hogan

Today Brett & I decided to keep the momentum from yesterday alive and do another pre-”day one” day of sun gazing. But we wanted to explore other vistas. So upon the advice of his teacher we headed for Beachwood Canyon, which is aptly named, because despite how high we climbed, the mountain in front of the sun just kept insisting on remaining higher. We were in a canyon indeed. We had to wait until 35 minutes after the official sunrise to see the disc today and that meant she was gonna be brighter and more intense than she is when she’s still stretching and yawning with that orange amber glow like yesterday. We made small talk and buried our toes in sand as we waited for an eternity to see the light show. Unlike yesterday I knew the sun was going to show up today, but to me, she was late and without so much as a phone call! We saw two bunnies hopping along haplessly and we whistled to the birds, who in a grand symphony whistled and chirped back. But the whimsy of the moment turned to wondering where the hell the sun was; we were freezing our asses off up there. 

The buried toes became tapping toes as we glared at one other like two mystified and flabbergasted parents who couldn’t believe their disrespectful child would keep them waiting like this. When she finally showed, she was, as predicted in a harsh mood. After staring at the sun for twelve seconds my eyes were full of tears and my skull behind my eyes was pulsating and warm. It felt like sinus pressure, but it came from the gazing. I’m just going to take it one day at a time. 

As my skull pressure returned to normal I remembered the phrase written on the tomb of Hermes that was said to be the key to the whole universe: “as above so below, as within so without.” Maybe the sun beams had burned my brains but I began to wonder what if this were to be taken literally? Everything in our physical world is made up of molecules. These molecules, according to quantum physics are little vibrating balls of energy, even the stuff that looks solid. Stuff looks solid because molecules are so small that we can’t see the vibration. So at one point we discovered that molecules are the smallest thing in the universe. But as we zoom closer into any molecule, we notice that it is really atoms flying around in orbital patterns that make up a molecule. So an atom is the smallest thing in the universe. Then as we take a deeper look we see that atoms are really protons, neutrons and electrons all flying in orbital patterns around each other. So clearly, protons, neutrons and electrons are the smallest things in the universe. As our gaze turns back to the particles we see a whole mess of stuff crammed inside the protons, neutrons and electrons, and running out of normal sounding words at this point, scientists decide to call those quarks. It’s decided! Quarks are the smallest things in the whole universe. But are they? At this point another sweeping statement of finality leaves me dubious. After all, the earth was flat once and fire was the devil. So I’m gonna play this one close to vest; I’m thinking our human collective opinion may change yet again. I’m almost sure of it. 

This got me thinking about orbits and about how we are living on a sort of massive proton spinning around the sun, and how the sun is just a massive atom spinning around the galaxy. And how the galaxy is just a massive molecule existing somewhere in the universe. “Does that make me a quark?” I wondered. Or am I even smaller than that? Am I the detail on the quark or in the quark that science hasn’t yet invented the way to see or the name for? Is it possible that as much detail and creativity and tragedy and triumph and beauty and destruction and invention as exists on this planet also exists on or in each and every quark? As within, so without, as above so below. I’m thinking, yeah, maybe. 

The idea of life being a fractal, when taken poetically can lift our spirits. When taken literally, however, it can begin to explain why some things just can’t be explained. We say tidal waves are from weather patterns and earthquakes are from shifting crusts. But we don’t explore what is the motivating force behind the weather, behind the crusts, that makes them move at all? What if these disasters are just the result of existence at a different scale of size getting off the couch, or hopping into the shower? If everything is molecules, from the water to my skin then I could imagine that anytime I shower that could be the equivalent of a meteor shower for the little details who live their lives to scale on one of the planets on one of the protons on my face as I splash myself happily with warm water, tidal wave after tidal wave, and to me it’s harmless good hygiene. But to them the time from morning to each morning is perhaps 26,000 years. What if eclipses are when lovers at a larger scale of existence kiss or make love. I’m not sure of all the details, but speaking as one of the details, I know that every last detail is important. The benevolence of the universe is that we exist at every level. This renders every “act of god” harmless and meaningless because God didn’t mean to hurt us anymore than we mean to hurt the consciousness living inside our quarks when we slide into home plate or burn our hands on the frying pan. I am within the molecule. I am the molecule. The molecule is within me. I’m not sure where that leaves me, and how that understanding plays out in my life. But I sure like my molecule theory better than the idea that an old fart with a white beard and control issues can decide my fate because he has hang ups about the fact that I like to make out with other boys. So I choose to believe that the fact of my existence makes me worthy of existence, and everything else is just molecules. 

It took about an hour for the pressure to fully subside from my skull and for me to stop contemplating the molecular structure of things. Tomorrow begins the official protocol we will be following for the gazing. It’s too soon to tell what effect the suns’s energy is going to have on my emotions and my body, but in case any one asks I can say this for certain: that sizzling star up there is very very bright. 

SIDE EFFECTS: Pressure behind my skull, a mild ache, not painful but not pleasant. Brett described it as 12 seconds of the harsh part of a root canal. I’m not sure what part he’s thinking is the good part of a root canal, but you get the idea. 

BENEFITS: I saw two bunnies. Did I mention that? 

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About Brian

About Brian

Brian is a Writer, Clarity Coach, Filmmaker and Adjunct Professor who loves teaching and learning, and living in the uncertainty of it all.

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