Francis Meyrick

A Blip on the Radar (Part 18) “Starry, starry night “

Posted on November 28, 2009

A Blip on the Radar

Part 18: Starry, starry night

(for Brenda)

At night, after a day’s hectic fishing, most of the crew always retired below to their cabins. Oftentimes we would be hove to. Then the ship would rock quietly, and only the distant diesel generators would disturb the Ocean peace, The main engines would be silent.

An awesome photo by Phillip Bell

Lapping of waves. The odd, startled, sea bird, confused by the artificial lights. A false sun…
A rhythmic diesel hum. And across the waves, delicately, soft chords playing.
Starry, starry night…

As likely as not, I alone would be up on deck. Pacing. Dreaming.
Often I would climb up to the helideck. And lie there, gazing up at the stars of the Milky Way, and far away Galaxies. Across the Space fabric of Time, my small and groping Spirit would wrestle with the enormity -for me- of what I was doing out there. And I would ponder the equal enormity of my insignificance on the Cosmic Scale.
I would stretch out along the top of the floats, and use my jacket as a pillow. I would spend hours upon hours alone up there, my little mind churning restlessly.
Who am I?
I would ask the question as if I thought I could find the answer.
Why am I?
I asked the question, almost convinced there was a reason. A good reason.
Am I alone?
I would speak the question softly in my mind, careful to send the tiny thought on its way with kindness and patience.
I don’t expect an answer…
There would be silence, save the hum of the distant generators, the lapping of distant waves, and the strange resonance of thoughts transmitted out, thoughts received, and deep, deep heartfelt longings. Dreams…
Dreams to Allah…

The middle of the Pacific Ocean, on a calm and clear night, is -in a mysterious way- a place where a Quiet Enlightenment is available for those of us tiny mortals who seek the honest humility required to glimpse it. I say glimpse, because that is all we can do. You’ll never find it. Hold on to it. Tie it down. Lock it up.
Not in our, busy, frenetic, blurring world…

Some people would call it Prayer. Others, offended at the very thought, and instantly hostile to any concept of a Deity, would call it Meditation. Others still, cynics perhaps, unbelievers in everything that cannot be touched, tasted, measured or seen, would sneeringly refer to it as the ramblings of a half crazy Irishman. But for me, there was a dynamic, hurting, confused sadness, matched, tended to, consoled if you like, by a deep and reverent awe. The Universe out there is inspiring, endlessly beautiful, and oh!, so accusing to us Mortal Men. How can we be so stupid? How can we be so selfish and greedy? So materialistic? In terms of our hunger to acquire possessions? And worse, materialistic in terms of our Cosmic blindness? Do we really think anymore…?
In my little scribblings, for that is all they are, I have repeatedly returned to the imagery, the symbolism, the metaphor, the theme of “the cubicle “. (As in my story “Living in a Cubicle “)
Four walls. Made mostly of cardboard. In which we tend to sit, supremely satisfied. In charge. Of our domain. Our Universe… We like to think we are important, and that we are in charge. Regardless of our occupation. I do it. We all do it. We all have this tendency to voluntarily restrict our view to our immediate surroundings. Make order there. Stick terribly important notes on the cardboard wall. Memos. Computer print outs. Work programs. Bank statements. Retirement fund statements. University degrees…..
I say this to myself. Often.
Slow down…

That band of light, bright, incredibly prolific stars… that’s the Milky Way.
My favorite road. Leaning over hard, throttle wide open.
It’s a swirling, raucous, irreverent, cacophony of stars. Totally out of whack. The most hap hazard, botched up job of putting lights in the sky you can possibly imagine. Who the heck did that? No system. Just a massive stellar orgy.
Oh well….
But it’s home. Our galaxy. We’re just an insignificant pair of Dreamers, you and me, on a very minor planet, sailing steadily around a relatively small sun. There’s millions and millions of suns out there. The amount of planets is unfathomable. The distances are beyond comprehension. And Time itself, blurs our every attempt to measure it. So many of those stars out there are sending us light, that has been traveling through space for many years. It is only now reaching our retinas.
And we think we’re important?

There are catatonic explosions going on out there. We see the distant rumblings, but have we any idea of the passion, the intensity, the creative and destructive cycle? Have we any real concept of how big Life is, and how small, how finite, how limited we are?
And yet, we are, each one of us, important.
I feel that, very strongly. Despite the fact that I’m lying here, on the helideck, pondering the mass of our very own galaxy. It’s between four hundred billion and one trillion solar masses. The disc of the Milky Way spans more than 100,000 light years. But it’s not very thick. At the nucleus it’s only about 13,000 light years thick, and then it fades out towards the outer edge. Our part of the galaxy, where I’m floating in the middle of the Ocean, on this peaceful night, is roughly 1,000 light years thick. Not too bad.
Now, cruising at a hunnered an’ twenty knots in my Hughes 500, that should take me…
Duh. Quite a frickin’ while, Jimmy. And don’t you just wonder what the blue Ocean blazes is going on out there?
Is there anybody else out there, pondering the same musings? We’re roughly 26,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way, so if I wanted to take a gentle poodle to Milky Way City centre, who would I meet on the way?

Our lives are so important. They matter. But to measure success only in terms of numbers in a currency, or standing amongst men, seems to me to be a wrong turn. Sure, that stuff matters, but then again, how does all that stand up to…
Wow… Look at that! It’s a satellite, streaking across the sky!
It’s only out here, far, far away from Man’s pollution, and his Slick City lights, that you can easily discern the satellites passing over. They are totally, totally different from airliners. We don’t actually get much commercial air traffic over at all. But lots and lots of satellites. If you keep a watch for them, you can spot them regularly. They will positively erupt over the horizon, and perform this amazing arc at breakneck speed. Up, up…. over…. and down the opposite horizon. It’s nothing to be able to follow them the whole way. Pretty awesome.
‘Planet beam’ is bright again tonight…

The city dwellers, the rabbits in their hutches, carefully chewed together with the best straws they can find, grab or steal, are all able to recognize mere ‘moon beam’. Not that they would be really very interested. People don’t read much romantic poetry any more. Many people don’t really read much more, period, I’m thinking. Although they fancy themselves as educated. Such a pity. Maybe it just takes a romantic soul, a dreamer soul, to be awed by ‘planet beam’. Swing your head left….
Swing your head right…
planet beam…
A more faint track of light, but, nonetheless, clearly, across the living water, comes a path of light from rising Mars.

The truth is complicated, and yet it is simple.
We don’t know much.
We think we do, but that’s an illusion. We think we are in control. But we’re not.
We weren’t born to hide like squinting moles behind the protective cardboard walls of our cubicles. We weren’t born to grip tightly to the corners of our desk, littered with self important papers. Those cardboard walls blot out the view of the stars beyond. They blot out the mystery. They reduce the Cosmic Search to the ramblings of some voice in the wilderness.
We are star dust…

We were born to dream, and to let our minds wander through the Universe, and sense the Power of Creation.
We were born to seek. To ask. To puzzle. To confront…. our doubts, our worries, our longings, our fears.

A meteor lights up the sky. Particles of interplanetary debris. Endlessly recycled. A dramatic entrance, a flash, that lights up the sky, all eyes turn… he is the greatest!
All hail, the great leader….!
All gone…

The way it is. The way it should be.
I can see clearly now…

For we are not Gods. We are just men. Specks of dust in a Universe of Galaxies, seconds in Eternity, and perhaps, the breath of the Great Architect. Beloved, for all our frailty, all our pride, and all our innocence.

We matter. We, the seeking ones.

Star dust…

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on January 29, 2015, 2:46 pm

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2 responses to “A Blip on the Radar (Part 18) “Starry, starry night “”

  1. I wonderfully gentle, seeking story.  Or not story…Musing, rather.

    There would be silence, save the hum of the distant generators, the lapping of distant waves, and the strange resonance of thoughts transmitted out, thoughts received, and deep, deep heartfelt longings.

    I loved this part, and how the perpetual motion of the waves mixes with the "strange resonance" of thought.  



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