Monday, September 23, 2013

Shining, flickering into that good night

From 30,000 feet in the air, the early evening displays a curious inversion of light. The ground beneath me is a dark purplish grey. I sometimes strain my eyes to try to make out any possible distinct shapes, but the earth does not divulge its secrets. If not for my trust in where the plane is taking me, it would be difficult to tell if I were even above ground or water. But the sky is still clinging to light, as the plane chases the dying embers of the sunset all the way towards the Pacific. The cloud bank that hugs the horizon is rimmed in a thin atmosphere of orange, which slowly leaks to pale blue, then dark blue, then black. Jupiter beckons above.

And then, every so often, the inky  void below is disturbed. A tiny defiant outpost of light appears, absurdly huddled against the black satin all around. Like some strange lichen pattern, a few lines can be made out against the indistinct mass of faint illumination. The edges are fuzzy, and a few single points of light have ventured out further, like scouts into the unknown.

Not yet, the lights call out. The universe may not care whether we are snuffed out or not. But for today, here lives Man. Today, generations rise and fall, struggling to subdue this rock of ours. But our children’s children may one day conquer the stars.

"It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

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