This summer has been a summer like the ones from my early
childhood. Bright, sunny, hot days and warm, windless, still summer nights. It's been
awhile since we've had a summer like this one. I am thoroughly enjoying it. Especially my
summer walks which usually begin under twilight skies and end in darkness under a canopy
of shimmering summer stars. The heat and the frenzy of the days melt away in the soft
Almost every evening, before I go to sleep, I take a walk.
During these extended walks I spend a great deal of this quiet time thinking. On one of my
mid-evening walks, a few days ago, I stopped for a moment and turned my gaze upward toward
the stars. It always amazes me when I stop and look at all those stars. It actually sends
chills through me when I ponder what I see. The vastness of the universe, the billions of
stars, the planets, all combine to remind me just how very small I am. I feel
insignificant and unimportant. But that's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. A very good
thing for all of us to be reminded that we are not that important. Even the rich and
powerful, who walk and live high above the masses, enjoying the benefits of power,
privilege and money; these mighty ones are just as trivial as the rest of us compared to
the awesome grandeur of the universe. We are all just "drops of water in an endless
It comforts me to know that no matter how crazy things get,
how bad things seem to be, no matter what happens to me, that in the end the universe is
unfolding exactly as it should. In our daily lives we might not think things are going our
way; we might feel we have not had a fair chance in life; we might feel our luck has
not been good. But one thing is for certain: Tomorrow will be what it will and not a
single one of us; neither the meek or the powerful, can change it. While that might be
discouraging to some, it is profound and comforting to me.
And, It occurs to me as I ponder the universe and my own
existence, that our time on this earth is so very limited we do not have time to
understand time at all.
While gazing up at the majesty of the stars and planets I
remember the words of astronomer Carl Sagan, who said: "Looking out at the stars is
looking back in time". Indeed. The light from some of these stars began its journey
to my eyes hundreds of thousands, even millions of years ago. Its journey through space
began long before the earth gave birth to to the first unicellular life. It has been
traveling eons before I was born and will be traveling for eons after I am gone. Time only
exists if someone exists to perceive it.
I perceive it. And I realize just how lucky I am to be here
to experience the incomprehensible vastness and splendid beauty of the universe; to
perceive time yet be unable to understand it, humbles me. I feel fortunate to be a tiny
part of the universe even if my life amounts to an insignificant grain of sand in
boundless enormity of it. I call it glorious insignificance. I feel lucky to have been born and am able now to look so far
back in time in the light streaming from ancient stars. It leaves me breathless,
awestruck, and humble. And I realize that no matter how smart any of us may be, none of us
can even begin to comprehend the meaning of the universe. Or the meaning of time.
Time is relative, as Einstein proves in his Theory of
Relativity. However, I have my own theory about time. Although I can't comprehend the
meaning of time, I can perceive it. My theory of relativity is applicable to each one of
During my childhood and my years in school I eagerly
awaited each year's long summer vacation. Summer vacation was the time when the days
stretched forever before me. Each day of summer vacation was an endless chain of hours
created especially for me to do whatever I wanted, free from teachers, books and bells.
But as each summer waned, I began to look forward to autumn, going back to school and
being back with my friends. Summer when I was young seemed to last forever. Summer seemed
a bit too long then. Now it comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Summer is far too short
As I grow older I notice that compared to my youth, months
are beginning to pass like weeks used to and years are passing like months. I can hardly
believe it was ten months ago since I was sat at this same desk writing "Nitrogen Blue
Skies". But it has.
It doesn't seem fair that when we are young, with our entire
lives stretching before us, that time passes so slowly. Seasons last an eternity. Days
last weeks; months last years. As we grow older and the days remaining in our lives grow
fewer than the days which have passed, time becomes compressed and passes so much more
quickly. The older I am the faster time passes. Days fly by like hours; weeks like days,
months like weeks, and years like months. It seems that time is playing a very cruel
practical joke on me. It does not seem fair to me that the younger you are the slower time
passes and the older you are the faster time passes. We cannot change our perceptions of
time because none of us will ever have enough time to understand time at all. Maybe that
is a very good thing. I'm sure that the universe is just exactly like it is supposed to
be. And time will always be only what we perceive it to be.