[COLUMN] Hail to the ordinary

Part 2 of 2

(Continued from last week …)

We are tempted to look at movie stars, fat cats and other luminaries who dare defy conventions basking in the public limelight pursued by TMZ cameras as people worthy of awe and respect. And if you let it, a tiny tinge of envy gnaws at our souls when you see their images commanding megabucks. They appear as titans walking among ants.

Granted a select few of them deserve the attention we give them but most can be reduced to fodder for the gristmill of entertainment. The truth is, those who deserve our awe and respect are the ones who orbit our daily life.

Perhaps we need to look at another firmament to gain a genuine and lifelong perspective of celebrating what is ordinary, of celebrating you and I and everyone of us, mere mortals cut from the average cloth, who have to get up every single day to slay our dragons with our rusty sword and trusty steed, that is, after we’ve gulped down our java and said our prayers.

Look to the stars in the true celestial firmament, to gain a soul-searing appreciation and even love and respect for our tiny place in the universe. Nature is a great teacher. A layman’s appreciation of astronomy and cosmology teaches us that there is every reason to celebrate the ordinary.

Our own sun is an ordinary, average, ho-hum star shining steadily in the suburbs about two thirds from the center of the Milky Way. In the hierarchy of stars, our own sun is a lowly commoner and it is located a third of the way from the center where a black hole exists, according to educated guesses by scientists.

This black hole is sucking in, like the drain in your kitchen sink, all the brightest stars within its vicinity. The biggest, brightest stars in our galaxy are energy guzzlers and therefore, have short lives, about half the life span of our solar system, and thus cannot support planets that need a longer span of time to support the existence and development of thinking, feeling beings such as our home planet.

Our sun, according to scientists, is approaching middle age and has enough fire in its belly to support life for another 4 to 5 billion years before it goes into its death throes and gets recycled back as dust and gas to repeat the process of giving birth to a new star, possibly with one special planet supporting intelligent life all over again. The universe is the ultimate recycling bin after all. This is probably what it means by the phrase “world without end.”

Consider that the Milky Way is only one ordinary spiral galaxy out of billions of others in a universe that according to evidence gathered by Edwin Hubble in the 1920’s is still expanding with billions of galaxies moving away from each other at a furious pace.

To simplify the imagery, perhaps we may be given license to view the universe in its near incomprehensible vastness, as a single mega structure in infinite space. The entire cosmos could be one unit composed of galaxies as its building blocks like cells and molecules of a human body but with gravity and plasma collectively emitted by the energy of countless stars, functioning as its cosmic lifeblood holding everything together. Whew!

The cosmos, according to evidence so far gathered by probes and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), is so inconceivably vast with more stars than there are grains of sand on earth, it strains the limits of human imagination. It is more than likely, there are other forms of intelligent life in places where there is water, complete with soul and spirit, following the laws of nature and teeming in wild abundance in the cosmos. We may never have any evidence of what sounds like science fiction, but some sage once pointed out quite rightly that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Yet for all this awesome grandeur, consider the glorious ordinariness of the earth in the celestial heavens. It’s like Goldilocks gravitating to the porridge in the middle. Neither too hot nor too cold, earth is the only place in the solar system with a slim ecosphere that allows life to not only survive, but to thrive with astonishing tenacity, as long as the sun shines steadily while it faithfully orbits the center of the Milky Way every quarter of a million years.

The earth’s size, its tilt, its distance from the sun, its companion moon, the presence of water in various states all conspire to make it and its inhabitants the crowning glory of creation as far as human life is concerned. Our blue marbled dot is a place so wonderfully made that of all the orbs of different sizes and makes, revolving around that ordinary star we call the sun, it is the only one uniquely qualified to sustain life, as we know it, in our tiny neck of the cosmic woods.

Value the ordinary. Value your life. The sun, the earth and the stars at night remind us daily.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya writes for Asian Journal Publications,  Inc. Her opinions are her own. To send comments, e-mail [email protected]


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