Monday, 20 October 2014

Things in the firmament is Things like non-Things

Right. So, I didn't take a photo as perhaps I should have. But then, the photo might have been even more cheeezy than the moment itself.

It was just a rainbow, a little more special than usual because I haven't seen a fully arched one for a long time, usually no more than fragments shooting off to whatever horizon. This one was akin to something from a storybook, except the sky was dark grey rather than blue, and there were no fluffy clouds on either side. Sitting here at my desk, typing up words of encouragement to a newly-diagnosed woman at my brain tumour support group, but feeling a bit glum and hopeless myself, and very angry that it was dark, rainy, cold, damp, yuck in the middle of the afternoon, when suddenly: it appeared. I got really excited. I lifted my fingers off the word "hope" and stared. Seeing in things in the sky that are not police helicopters tend to fill me with a peaceful hippie glee, and I have to call out to whoever is nearby to point it out, to share my excitement.
Many years ago in Calgary, for example, I was getting home from the bar at about 4am. Not particularly intoxicated - that is, not so much that what I saw was not real. It was winter, and the sky lit up with aurora borealis as I approached the house. I had seen the auroras in Calgary on a number of occasions before that, but because the city is not far north at all, sightings are a rare occurrence and are nowhere near as spectacular as those in the arctic. But that night whisps of white and blue and green, maybe the tiniest bit purple, materialised, and I ran to the front door as fast as possible lest they were to flicker away before I could wake my parents. I made no effort to enter quietly. I got my mother out of bed and brought her outside where I pointed upwards with joy and awe...and she squinted up at the lights, nonplussed, then looked me up and down. "Frances, you stink,"  she said and went back into the house. I remained delighted and stared and stared until they de-materialised.

Today's rainbow lasted no more than five minutes, and the force of it really set off sparks for me, especially considering what I was typing at the moment. It actually added force and greater sincerity to what I was writing, and reminded me that the words of comfort I offer to fellow brain-rottees apply to me as well. My cynicism and anger and hatred and despair run from my skull down to my heels and back up again, but there's still some padding there (especially around my belly) that contains hope and other such nonsense. If I didn't still have hope I wouldn't have the capacity to continue being such a snarly bitch.

Would YOU eat dark matter after your workout?
So there it is. Events in the sky that are no more than reflections and refractions of light in the earth's atmosphere still rouse absolute awe in me because, well, 1) they look pretty cool, and 2) they terrify me. In the nicest possible way they remind me of the unfathomable size of the universe, mostly dark matter, that is more or less constantly attacking us. I'm going to be a bit sloppy here and let this post drift off into, um, the firmament, because discussing it is an intensely serious business that I don't wish to undertake at the moment. My purpose was only to express, briefly, the auspicious timing of a rainbow that made my eyes glaze over for a moment, and that I truly hope made my wishes more sincere to the woman (and group) I was writing to at that moment. A good omen. I hope.

I leave you with this brainy quote from pop-science journal, Discover:

"There is something marvelous in the fact that we barely understand what most of the cells in our brains are doing. Beginning in the 1930s, astronomers realized that all the things they could see through their telescopes—the stars, the galaxies, the nebulas—make up just a small fraction of the total mass of the universe. The rest, known as dark matter, still defies their best attempts at explanation. Between our ears, it turns out, each of us carries a personal supply of dark matter as well."

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