Sunday, September 07, 2008


I sit here in my room, thinking about looking up at the stars last night, and getting this funny feeling in my stomach when I think about how big it is, how much space there is in it, and how much had to go into making all that, how much we'll probably never see, and yet we got made, too, with more care than all that vastness.

I can't imagine any journey that I would want to make more than getting into a shining new colonization ship built by a space dock orbiting the Moon, and slipping quietly into a cryogenic stasis pod, to spend half an objective millennium traveling slower than light to a distant, uninhabited planet. Arriving, and looking around at how the ship we sailed on, the pinnacle of human engineering when we left, has barely managed to limp along for the past hundred years through engine failures, micro-meteor impacts, and the wearing down of ancient systems. Disembarking from our shuttles on the surface of an alien planet, the first humans to set foot on a habitable world other than earth, knowing we can never go back, and for better or for worse, we have chosen this life, a life that will be as hard as any that a human has ever chosen. Looking around after a week and knowing that I was made to be here in this place.

Instead, I live in a city of over four million people where I have to navigate my way through a herd of goats, digging through trash piles or drinking out of the open sewer. A city where power is unreliable, where some days we can't go out, where the people pump dirty water into even dirtier old gas tanks to take home to drink. A city that has been fought over hundreds of times in the last thousand years. A city where light and darkness seem to compete weakly, dust storms during the day and the patch of bright light late at night after the power fades away. It would seem to be hard to be farther away from the shining metal of a new spaceship, the impunctual idealism of desiring to be a colonist in the modern world, the proud pronouncement of my desire to have a 'difficult' life.

And in so many ways, in so many different facets of all these traces of thought, one thing I hold to. I am supposed to be here, I am supposed to live in this city with all of the things that seem to be an irreverent juxtaposition of technologies. I am supposed to live in this place where it seems like life is difficult for no immediate purpose. I am supposed to know that my life is not under mine own control.

This tension between my desires and my realities is the tightrope I walk on. The tension is necessary for my path to be safe, for me to make it to the next side. I find much tension in my life is part of the tightrope, and if the tension disappeared, I would fall into this chasm.

Our lives are a beautiful collision between ourselves and who we serve.

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