Life’s Three Questions
30,000 years ago the caveman would sit at night with his wife and kids – and look up at a symphony of stars – asking three questions.
Who are we? Where are we? Where are we going?
And here we are, in a day when a spaceship is pushing past Pluto, when we’re cloning animals, and bouncing images off satellites in space – and we’re not one bit closer to any one of those three questions.
Who are we?
Are we just another animal running our pea-sized planet that’s spinning in the boondocks of one of 200,000,000,000 galaxies in our universe? Or did a supreme being create every single thing and every place in the entire universe just for us?
Do we have a soul – a soul that profoundly separates us from all other living creatures – or do we see the world from an anthropomorphic perspective that blankets us from all logic and reason?
Are our dreams our own, or are they the collective unconscious memory and story of our universe?
Was 13th-century Persian Rumi right when he said, “I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.”
Where are we?
For my money, we’ve been humans for somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 years. Before that, a little more monkey than I’m comfortable calling a brother.
6,500 years ago, Democritus said he didn’t guess our earth was flat.
Imagine how that went over Athens. How he wasn’t sure exactly how, but people on the other side of the earth are hanging upside down.
Think of the living conditions for most folks in the world just 1,000 years ago. Not in Rome. Not in Greece. Not in Egypt. In the sticks. In villages literally in the dark in every nook and cranny of the planet.
On the Huang-Ho River in China. In Aborigines communities in Australia. In tribes along the Zaire River in the Congo. Towns feeding off Lake Tanganyika in Burundi. No electricity. No plumbing. No Teslas. No paper to write on. Why would they be thinking that maybe there’s a force in the air that pulls you towards the closest body in the sky?
Can you imagine how unsettling it was 500 years ago when Copernicus and Galileo said we weren’t the center of God’s universe; that the sun was our universe’s home? That the sun wasn’t circling us, we were circling it. Yikes. How could we possibly be important if that’s the truth?
Then some biologists come along 200 years ago, like Darwin and Mendel, and continue to stir the evolutionary pot. Darwin has the audacity to declare Eve wasn’t created from man’s rib, but from the DNA of two lovely hairy monkeys.
And, only 100 years ago, some patent clerk named Einstein shakes things up again saying time isn’t constant. Neither is space. Then what is?
And, then, in our lifetime, folks like Hawkings closed any questions about if black holes are real. Where they eat planets and suns and disappear to a place called nowhere.
And with the Hadron Collider of CERN in Switzerland, quantum physicists are now telling us how particles can be in two places at the same time.
Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me.
Whenever humans start to think we’re pretty damn smart we ought to keep in mind we can’t seem to see or get what 40% of the universe is made of.
That’s what I’d call ‘way off.’
And how about lots of smart folks drinking the kool-aid that it’s starting to look like we’re not the only universe in town.
That would be a big game-changer if we figured that one out.
Let’s not even chat about what the folks in quantum gravity are kicking around when it comes to time and heat.
And with all that going on around us, here we are in the new Millennium, and with a global census that tells us that a good chunk of the 8 billion peeps on our planet still believe the world is flat.
So, the last of the big three questions… where are we going?
Are, or aren’t we, an anomaly in the absolute boondocks of a barren, voiceless cosmic sea?
My dog, Simba, knows our block, and his big cosmic journey has been a couple of space rides in the back seat into town. That’s his world. If I dropped him off a mile from our house, he’d never find his way home.
His next meal would be the one where he’s the main course.
From a “how much do we really get what’s going on” perspective, in the grand picture, maybe we’re a couple notches above Simba. My guess is that’s about it.
So, what’s the answer?
When I’m rubbing the back of Spanky’s neck tonight, I’ll run it by him.