Where do I start?
I concentrated on my antique lamp, carefully analyzing the dust coating its base. It felt like me, I assumed. I felt like dust clung to me. “Yet it’s brighter than I’ll ever be.”
Everything I had to do that day, and tomorrow, seemed overwhelming. It was hopeless. It was repeated torture.
“Today is the day I do it. I’m really going to.”
I looked out the window—the sun piercing my swollen eyes.
“I’m going to finally end this hell we deceivingly call life.”
I wanted to do it quick before I could change my mind again. I ran to the gun cabinet. I loaded my rifle.
The lamp brightened to such intensity that the entire room washed into white. “Stop what you’re doing!” a voice shouted.
I instantaneously found myself no longer in my room, but on the Moon.
The voice came from an orb of light that hovered above my head. It continued, “I won’t let you attempt suicide without first hearing the truth.”
“The truth about what?” I asked, trembling.
The orb entered my mind through my forehead, answering, “Your life.”
I’ve had a lot of strange things happen to me, but this topped it. “Did I just go crazy or did I already kill myself or am I dreaming or am I seeing this?”
“Well you could still see things, even if you did go crazy, commit suicide, or dream.”
“Oh. I’ve gone crazy; haven’t I?”
“Yes. You’ve finally lost your nerve. You wanted to kill yourself.”
I stopped to appreciate the lunar surface. It was desolate, serene. There was no busy life here. It was all moon rocks. It was all fine dust and craters. It was pure peace. “Yes. It’s true I want to end myself. Why shouldn’t I? I know what’s waiting for me. I’ve been through the motions enough times now to know how my emotions will be tugged.” There wasn’t even air here, just stillness. “It’s all too, too much.”
“You’re going to die, human. Why rush to your end?”
“I’m so afraid.” I thought about it some. “I can’t handle the next hardship. I don’t want to keep reliving this endless depression. There’s no use for this pain. I got nothing to look forward to… and even if I did, it would be short-lived.”
“You’d be surprised how awesome nothingness is and your relation to it. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ll be more surprised once I show you where you came from, who you are, how you move even an inch, and why you’re here.”
The moon appeared to shrink as I was effectively thrust into outer space. “Where are we going?”
“Take a look: your own solar system.”
My eyes didn’t burn to see the sun. It was enormous.
“Consider this: The Earth is roughly 85 sextillion times larger than you. You couldn’t live without it. The moon, depending on the time, is 240,000 miles away. You couldn’t live without it. The sun is 333,000 times more massive than the Earth. You couldn’t live without it. You’re part of the solar system in the sense that you were created from this stuff, but it’s more like the solar system is part of you in the sense of what is keeping who alive. It’s like a big, cosmic organ.”
“But you can’t say the Sun, Moon, and Earth are part of me. I’m not the only one receiving any benefit. That would mean all life would share these organs. We’re separate beings.”
“Are we now? I suppose you could differentiate between cells too.” The sun shrank to the size of a tennis ball. It reminded me of the orb of light that evidently invaded my mind.
“The Sun, Moon, and Earth will go along fine without me.”
The Sun became lost in a sea of other stars, some dimmer, some brighter, some in dancing encounters with others. “This is true. It has before and will again.”
I could see the Milky Way galaxy. “Wow. Is that the super massive black hole?”
“Yes. This is the heart of your galaxy, and really almost all galaxies—and there’re a lot of galaxies.”
My view expanded.
“Don’t worry. We’ll return to the black hole.”
Each galaxy looked like a small point of light, often mixed in with many others.
“Can you see the grandeur?”
“I can see it, but it doesn’t make me want to live my human life. It makes me want to end it and become part of this beauty.”
The galaxy clusters began looking like wisps of fluorescent smoke.
“How can you be so foolish? You already are part of this.”
Before I could reply, I found myself back on the Moon.
“Sentience is the only thing that can look at that grandeur. Human beings manage to put it into words, albeit in a diminished form.”
“Then why bother with any of it if it can’t be put into words correctly?”
“It’s still worth the effort of trying. Just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s a waste.”
“Well why does it matter that sentience can look at this stuff?”
“Because it gives it meaning.”
“Why does anything need meaning?”
“It doesn’t need it; it wants it.”
“Why do I need to make meaning? There’s plenty of other sentience to do that!”
I was waiting for an answer, pulling at a loose skin flap on my thumb, when I realized my vision magnified. “What’s happening?” The landscape of my skin began expanding, as what used to be barely noticeable creases became deep and intricate valleys and mountains.
“You need to see your own huge significance, or else, to you, you might as well not have it—but it’s there.”
I could see the inner workings of one of my cells. “It… it… it seems, well, so incredibly well designed.” I struggled to put my awe into words. “Is this orchestra always happening?”
“It’s perpetually happening. And there’s even more to it than that!”
I traveled inside a nucleus, watching as my DNA unzipped its double snake embrace to spindle off proteins like a factory. It occurred to me that there’s a tremendous amount of space inside the densest objects. “How does so much space hide in something solid?”
The retort came way of further magnification, as I entered the molecule. Atoms shared waves with each other, but the molecule now hardly seemed like a single unit anymore. It was all a dance. I watched photons darting back and forth between the electrons.
“Even light makes meaning as it traverses between charged nodes. Or perhaps it’s better to say the electrons speak to each other in light waves. Everything is really empty inside. The surface is informed by our import. It’s like everything is a hologram of the vacuum, because the vacuum didn’t want to be merely nothing forever, but also something sometimes.”
“Are you saying that emptiness is conscious?”
“It’s as conscious in so far as it’s outside the limits of space and time. But let me show you something incredible.”
I was granted the ultimate privilege of peering into an electron. To my surprise, I saw wisps of fluorescent smoke. “Oh my God,” I said. “Does that mean that inside every particle is a whole universe? Can it be?”
I entered in further, focusing on the heart of a galaxy inside an electron of my cell.
“This is a black hole.”
All time stopped and I felt untethered from the constrictions of shape.
“You can access that feeling at any time. It’s always been here: Now. If you concentrate on your center, you’ll find emptiness is the endless interim between each moment. We just kept choosing to divorce ourselves from this ultimate truth. We rejected stable formlessness in lieu of unstable, constantly changing form. We tricked ourselves. We wanted an experience. But the truth is, nobody exists. We’re borrowed time. We’re the virtual particles rented from the vacuum and returning.”
“And none of this has any meaning unless we choose to appreciate it.”
“You and I are from the same start, the same source, teeming emptiness.”
I found myself back on the Moon, feeling so strange to be in the middle of a paradox: Overpowering immensity and smallness—both eternal and minute, empty and substantial. I’m an entire world.
I saw myself as a multitude of sentience, striving to survive and praying to have greater faculties, wishing I was a human when I wasn’t and then wishing I wasn’t human when I was. I witnessed myself committing suicide as a human in so many permutations I turned away.
“Do you get it yet?”
“Then tell me why you shouldn’t commit suicide.”
“Because we’re part of the system that self-validates and this human life is precious. I choose to see it before I throw it away again. I’m already dead. I can access infinite peace whenever I want.”