I’m told that there are places on this Earth where entire galaxies move effortlessly. At these horizons, the Milky Way spreads out like a bowl of cereal and the stars float around like flakes in seemingly infinite blackness. Red merges with green and blue with yellow and a kaleidoscope of colours – the stew of gases coming together to form colours unimaginable here on Earth – blend softly as if to invite an observer to judge the Universe’s aesthetic appeal. I’m told that words like mine fail to describe the cosmic scenery because even eyes betray the perception of the event, and I usually reply, “Like the Universe and its colour, it’s all we got.”
Today, I realized what that banal platitude meant. To do so, I had to climb to end of the Universe and look into the void and see a friendly face. More than that, I had to be ready to jump if necessary.
This is how it happened. After spending the majority of the day basking in the sun on a Torontonian beach, shaking uncontrollably in an icebath for a lake, swimming despite the cold, and burning up my chances of skin cancer because I forgot to apply sunscreen, I found myself at the edge of the Universe. I know it’s hard to believe that this finitely infinite place would be materialize here on Earth, but there I was in the thick of it, knee deep in everything and everything, and I was looking out at darkness ahead of me and light behind me and it was beautiful.
Others were there too. In fact, the wire thin line of the end of the Universe was packed. I found myself in a swell of people. Right there in the macrocosm, some thousand of people were experiencing their private lives with their own beliefs, ideas, and principles. One mother spent half of the time complaining about the heat of the sand on her feet and the other half about the coldness of the water on those same feet. A little way from her, a little girl was blowing bubbles as big as the Earth and they skirted along the water. And another man walked quietly with a dog whose eyes were globes of black and whose fur was speckled and mangy. Both limped when they treaded along the beachfront.
You see today I learned that we, all these people I do not know and never will know from the mother to the man to the dog, are all we got.
It occurred to me as I was driving at night. While holding the hand of the person beside me, somehow for some inescapable reason, I felt a million different lives and a million different people moving, doing, acting and feeling all at once. On my left was Jenna, the waiter who served us for dinner. She spent hours trying to move away from the archetypal failed actor turned waiter. Each day she rose and practiced lines to Aladdin that had been performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre last year. Then there was a young Ukrainian boy whose name was whispered only briefly – Anton – who would grow in a world I could not imagine. It would be a place as foreign to him as to me, and I would hope that whatever happened in his lifetime summed up in this sentence, that he’d be happy as he was at this beach even if it isn’t there when he surprisingly found himself older and doesn’t remember the time when he played in Toronto’s sand.
All of us were living these Universes of our own composition and yet here we were all together at this random moment in time. Here we all were – I, I, and another million of other I’s – doing things because we felt them important and other things because we couldn’t care less and we justified both to ourselves and whoever else we thought was listening. Sometimes, we talked about our feet being uncomfortable in any environment; other times it was the rhythm of our footsteps along a boardwalk saying more than we could and would want to anyhow.
At this very moment, here we all were together.
The Japanese have a word for this – yugen: a feeling of connectedness in a Universe that seems so completely alone. Now I don’t know Japanese, so that may be a pile of horseshit peddled generation after generation to foreigners for amusement. Nonetheless even if it means nothing of the sort, the fact that this word has taken on such a meaning, whether true or not, suggests that it is linked to a greater whole. Yugen itself, by being defined in some way, even if entirely erroneous, has become a universal concept that brings people together even if by mistake.
And that’s exactly what we may very well be – cosmic accidents mixed together into a being that laughs, smiles and farts. All of us, no matter the derived importance we feel on earth, every beggar to every monarch, every slave to every master, every parent to every child, all of the allies and enemies, nuns and harlots, fool and intellectual, all the followers of every denominations of religion and every creed, philosophy and ideal, we all may be an oopsy-daisy.
As I was driving, I told the person beside me all this and how it made me want to help people if I could. I said that even if people hate me, wouldn’t it be nice for them to feel the same that I feel for them – a mutual hope for benefit in however they define it.
She didn’t agree. She said that this was all meaningless. I said maybe she was right but even if we weigh a sliver of a sliver of a sliver of the whole of the Universe, we should act like a planet for we are part of the Universe and it is part of us and that makes us meaningful. More than this astronomical fact, these daily lives that feel tedious, arduous and spiteful – from Jenna’s or Anton’s or my own – are meaningful only if we make them so. This is especially true if they are meaningless in the scheme of things. If nothing is the end result, let’s have a ball while we’re here doing god knows what for god knows why. Let us be our own places where the Universe seems to sparkle and extend endlessly and when we get there, let’s blow bubbles over the waters that distill through everything, us included.