We can look backwards in time.
Every time you gaze at the stars you are inside a time machine.
The light you see took years – anywhere between four and four thousand – to reach your eyes.
A star that you can see tonight may have exploded thousands of years ago, and no longer exists. It is gone. But you can see it.
Intelligent, highly educated people spend their lives studying these things. Quantum physics. String theory. If you Google, “why there is no such thing as touch,” you’ll learn (but like me, perhaps not understand) that there is no such thing. I thought I was sitting on the couch writing this. Not quite. Instead, “when you plop down into a chair or slink into your bed, the electrons within your body are repelling the electrons that make up the chair. You are hovering above it by an unfathomably small distance.”
At the subatomic level, a particle can exist in two places at the same time. A measurable thing that exists can be in more than one place at once.
Does any of it matter for any of us? Arguably not. Whether we know, or do not know these things, hardly effects our lives.
I do not think about them every day. I rarely think about them at all.
Why did I think about them today? Because I was straining for an analogy to help explain the unexplainable. There is a broken bridge near my home. Surrounding it are forests, and streams, pathways and fallen trees. This little clearing in the woods is alive with birds and bugs. I’ve never seen a bear there, but every time I go, I expect to. It feels like exactly where a bear should live. I am drawn to this place.
In a subatomic world, where I can be in two places at one time, a part of me would always be at the broken bridge. It exudes peace. Sometimes I stand on the bridge and hear the water that runs below. Sometimes, I sit on a log and just listen. I’ve meditated there. I’ve walked beyond the bridge and discovered a trail I did not know existed. The broken bridge is the place where my inner voice yells the loudest, and the broken bridge helps give me the resolve to listen to it. The broken bridge is the place that I limped to last week, when an old hip injury flared up, and I worried that, not only would I be unable to complete the Vancouver Marathon, but that weeks or months of pain loomed ahead. [I finished the marathon. And my hip still aches].
When I walked there last week – “layered” is the word that stuck in my head. The broken bridge and the world around it are layered. Vibrant greens contrasting with dull greys and browns; chirping birds interrupting pure silence; trees reaching for the sky hovering above dead ones that have yet to fall. All those things interact with each other. Infinitely.
The day after the marathon we returned home. We’d spent three days in Vancouver, in a busy downtown hotel, in a large city. We were always surrounded by people and noise. After we got home, I walked to the broken bridge. I was alone. The day before, I’d been one of thousands of runners. That morning, we woke up in a city with hundreds of thousands of people. Hours later, I had the broken bridge to myself.
The broken bridge always looks the same and is always a little different. It’s magical, like looking into the past, hovering on a couch, or being in two places at the same time. I see it. I’m immersed in the beauty. But I can never explain or fully understand exactly what I’m experiencing and how it makes me feel.