“In the middle of this road we call our life
I found myself in a dark wood
With no clear path through.”
– Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy “Inferno”
In my short life upon this planet, I’ve yearned for answers to deceivingly simple questions. Why are we here? What is the purpose of my existence? Should I have another helping of this cheescake? As I grew, I looked around me for the answers, and only found more questions. But in the searching and the asking, I discovered a deeper meaning for the struggle and hardship, the fleeting moments of happiness and joy, the seemingly never-ending blanket of guilt and shame that devour years. In the space between the moments, there is an eternal calm and comfort that sustains us, and if we can simply swim toward it, the current of the universe can often ferry us where to need to go, even if we end up in a different place than we expected.
How many times have we come to a road, unsure of where to turn, and plunged either into deep contemplation that led us into the wayward journey of our past decisions, marred with regret, sadness, and sometimes anger; or simply stood there befuddled with the might of the decision before us. And yet, while the weight of the world seems to bear down upon our shoulders, we live on, the world keeps turning, the sun continues to rise and set, and the stars shine in their fiery glory, radiating their resplendent deaths from eons before.
According to NASA, the deaths of ordinary stars differ from massive stars. Ordinary stars, including the sun, exhaust the supply of hydrogen in their core. Without heat, the source of heat to support the core against gravity simply disappears. Hydrogen continues to burn around the core and the star transforms into a red giant. Massive stars live quite a different existence, burning and perishing in dramatic ways. When it similarly exhausts its core, the burning cycle goes on, attaining higher temperatures which burn carbon into other elements, that eventually become iron, the most stable form of nuclear matter. Things get complicated, but the result is a supernova explosion, which creates the enriched gas that becomes the stuff of life for future planets and stars. It is through this scientific, yet entirely natural process, by which all life is made possible.
So, if you are still reading, we can safely assume that you desire an existence not unlike that of massive stars. Either that, or you are still thinking about that second slice of cheesecake. Assuming the former, you may feel akin to the massive star; that through your life on this blue Earth- complete with the full spectrum of human emotion and its many implications – you can create something that lives on, infusing the billions of people and teeming life around you, that continue moving forward long after your clock has wound down. I continue to ask the questions and search for answers, but the one thing I can defiantly say in the face of all obstacles is this: if I’m made of the stuff of stars, what cannot be accomplished?
Through this blog, I hope you will join me on this journey.