Monday, January 28, 2013

Like Diamonds in the sky

In grade school we learned about 'infinity.' In even toned voices, the teachers impressed upon us the concept that some objects are uncountable, some depths unfathomable, and some distances immeasurable.   Allowing a room full of 10 year olds to ruminate on this concept could throw a class into chaos, so we never spent much time on it.  They told us not to think about infinity in literal terms, encouraging us to just accept it and move on.

Fast forward--I have lived in a city most of my life. As far as I know there are only three constellations in the sky:  the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and the few stars of Orion. It seems that there are hardly any individual snowflakes anymore.  The beach is eroding back into the ocean, so how could the grains of sand really be infinite? I've become a cynic and it seems infinity has become an unlikely, old fashioned concept.

But then, one dark evening, I'm quietly floating down the Rio Negro in Amazones, Brazil. Trying to spy camens, frogs, and night blooming plants, the sounds of the rain forest and the vibration of the little boat are instead lulling me to sleep. Not wanting to miss one detail of the Amazon exploration, I turn my head upwards to feel the breeze on my face and when I shift my eyes to the sky, I am suddenly awake.  There are millions and trillions of visible stars.  There are more stars than the sky has room for. I can't stop looking.  I am staring into the deepest, most astonishing abyss of sparkling tiny suns. En mass, a mesmerizing, three dimensional symphony.

Since that evening, I can think of nothing else. I find myself entranced by anything that looks remotely like a star filled sky.  Diamonds, fireworks, snowflakes, the misty drops that make a rainbow, even the lights of the cities twinkling--they are a mere reflection of the Amazon sky.  After seeing the stars, everything else in the world looks like an attempt to mimic them. A diamond? Just the earth's rendition of a star.

Does it change your life when you realize that infinity is real? Does it matter? Yes! Because it means that for today and for every day to come, the possibilities are infinite too.