Amusings on Billy Collins’ poem “Earthling”

Can you see the patent absurdity of believing in the Solar System – that planets orbit the sun, etc? It’s a really ridiculous idea – as an idea. But of course, counter to our flat earth-centric experience we have proved all kinds of things outside our direct experience, many of which are not true. Plenty of times we have drawn the wrong conclusions from our experience but this does not stop people from drawing the wrong conclusions– not a bit. Well, I do have to modify that word ‘people’ because you certainly don’t believe anything absurd and you are not just ‘people’ anyway. One must be careful not to overindulge in generalizations.

 

Where would we be without gravity?

 

My minds just went everywhere for a second; astrophysics, weak forces, strong forces. Without gravity there wouldn’t be a ‘be’ or a here or a now. Then, indulging in a moment of what might be denial, I get to the phrase, “Perhaps the binding force at the sub-sub-sub-atomic level is love.”

 

I heard that somewhere. A physicist said it and if that arbiter of reality has said it, it must be true.

 

Let’s enjoy the warmth of that sun, fellow earthlings because at a sub-sub-sub-atomic level there’s a chance we keep it burning and at that respectful distance from us.

 

I keep thinking of the Sybil sitting on her swing over the chasm, breathing volcanic fumes until her eyes are filled with mind boggling visions. “A great battle will be won today.” What an answer.

 

I am the Paraclete[1] of Caborca[2]!

 

So all of us, weighing in on our earth scales telling each other contradictory stories about what is real and what is not, all the believers, the religious and not-religious, are on the same track: we are keeping the world on track, the right distance from the sun. We are exerting enough love to let the universe persist.

 

Is reality sitting on the other side of some invisible barrier? Why do we have such trouble defining it? Or are we keeping reality at a respectful distance so that it warms us to just the right temperature to turn our oceans into our great soup of life?

 

I mean, think of what happens in a real pot of soup left out on the counter for even one day! All kinds of life swimming around giving off gases.

 

If love be the binding force at a sub-sub-sub-atomic level does that change anything? What does it mean? How is it that our brains can think so far outside the box as to lose track that there is a box at all?

 

Think of those physicists going home after a day of thinking about love, trying to quantify its unifying force on the universe and then changing their baby’s diaper, singing it a lullaby, making mating behaviors with their partners, all while a segment of their brain is keeping the whole machine, down to its sub-sub-sub-atomic forces running by loving it, letting it grow haphazardly. No wonder we spend a third of our lives asleep – the universe is a large thing to keep organized.

 

Considering how little attention this kind of love gets on the political front, it can’t need much love to keep the  whole ball of wax rolling along. Maybe we keep breeding as a species because we need to have baby love and cute kitten love and puppy love as a counter-weight to IED explosions in Iraq. Lets hope that the explosion of love we felt when the WTC went down on 9-11 kept those buildings from turning everything into a gravity-less inexistence. And we aren’t done with that job, yet.


[1] an advocate; intersessor; pleader; the Holy Spirit

[2] Whole phrase is a quote from the movie “The Hospital” (1971), Caborca is a town in Mexico,

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