Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nights and music

"A still more glorious dawn awaits.
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise. 
A morning filled with 500 billion suns, 
the rising of the Milky Way." 
- Carl Sagan (RIP, you are missed) 

I love the night time, the dark, the quiet and the stillness that it brings. I love walking at night, in my small mountainside community, in the woods, in the city. All of it. Each has a different flavor and feeling and all of it brings me peace. My damn body is determined to take that away it seems. I don't like mornings and I am so exhausted all the time that mid day is spent asleep usually. Nights are where my brain is alive and working and where I can be at peace. Until the arthritis hits. The stabbing pains in my back and hips. The tightness in my chest. The sharp pains when I breathe. The bone deep exhaustion. The muscle spasms. The headaches. Some nights they don't hit till early morning - 5, 6, 7am. Days like tonight some of them hit over a half an hour. I go from feeling good. Playing games with my friends, talking laughing. Being normal.

"We are all connected;

To each other, biologically
To the earth, chemically
To the rest of the universe atomically"

- Neil deGrasse Tyson 
(One of the few I consider a hero, even after meeting them) 

Then one thing after another spirals out of control and I need to rest. I need to sleep. But I can't. I don't get my nights of walking anymore, I can't risk being too far away from home at 2am. I don't get to game most nights more than an hour or two anymore. My back and my hands and my head fail me. I don't get to sleep either. I lie down in bed waiting for the sleeping pills to take me only to be kept up for hours by muscle cramps and spasms that set off all of the other pains. I curl into a ball whimpering, wishing I could just pass out. Sometimes I take a hot hot shower to relax what muscles I can only to lie back down after. Warm and content until the pains come right back and take me away.

"One of the great revelations of space exploration

Is the image of the earth, finite and lonely
Bearing the entire human species
Through the oceans of space and time"

- Carl Sagan

I hate that my body wants to take everything away from me. I love nights. I love sleep. I love going and doing things. Seeing new things. Talking to people. Dancing and playing. Instead so often I can't do any of this and have to just keep walking in circles trying to keep some of my muscle strength up. Instead I lie in bed trying not to cry because my everything hurts in a book's worth of ways. Instead I stay at home, alienated from my friends because I hate to burden them with my company when I go out. We used to walk for hours all over town. Now I can barely make an hour at a slow pace with periodic stops. Usually I need a cane if I am going to walk for a while.

"As the ancient mythmakers knew

We're children equally of the earth and the sky
In our tenure on this planet, we've accumulated
Dangerous evolutionary baggage

We've also acquired compassion for others,
Love for our children,
And a great soaring passionate intelligence
The clear tools for our continued survival"

- Carl Sagan

The things that I love doing have been taken away from me by my own body and now I feel like a foreigner stuck in a body whose language I don't speak and whose people are hostile. It's a daily struggle just to figure out enough to function let alone do more. I wish there was some way to translate this all and to somehow fix things. I shouldn't be alien in my body, I shouldn't be at war with the very thing I need to keep my self alive.

"Every cell is a triumph of natural selection
And we're made of trillions of cells (Within us is a little universe)
Those are some of the things that molecules do

Given four billions years of evolution (We are, each of us, a multitude)"
- Carl Sagan 

As an atheist and a methodological naturalist I can't even take comfort in the lie that when I am finally done with this body, when I am finally dead, there is something to look forward to. Because there isn't. The self, the mind is a function of the brain. When my body dies, and my brain dies, my self dies as well. There is no emergent phenomena out of dead brain. No emergent self, curious and wondering at the universe that could be so complex as to form something as amazing as the brain. There is no soul, no essential spark, that will ascend to heaven, or reincarnate, or live on as a ghost. Just nothing. I can't even wish for that kind of end because that would be it. This is the only chance I have. The fact that I got a crap body to ride around in is the breaks I got so I need to figure out how to live. It's just hard when each day is a constant fight with your body to do what needs to get done let alone what you want to do.

The random quotes are from Symphony of Science's fantastic music. If you like them (and the videos I link to at the bottom) check out more of their stuff at their website.

"There isn't a sharp line dividing humans
from the rest of the animal kingdom
It's a very wuzzie line

It's a very wuzzie line,
and it's getting wuzzier
All the time

We find animals doing things that we,
In our arrogance,
Used to think was "just human""

- Jane Goodall

"There is a powerful recognition                                         "The universe is made of 
That stirs within us                                                            Twelve particles of matter
When we see our own little blue ocean planet                        Four forces of nature
In the skies of other worlds"        
- Carolyn Porco                                                      That's a wonderful and significant story"
                                                                                              - Brian Cox

"Onward to the edge
We're moving onward to the edge
Here we are together
This fragile little world"
- Neil deGrasse Tyson

After that why don't I cheer you all up with some symphony of science.
First an Ode to the Brain:

Then one of my favorite songs ever. A Glorious Dawn, where the quote at the top of the blog today comes from. It features one of the best communicators of science we have ever had, one whose loss has effected us all in so may ways. Carl Sagan.

And finally a reminder of how we are all connected to each other. This one is called we are all connected.

Okay one more... about the secret of the stars. 

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