Cosmologists, physicists and math wizards assure us we shouldn’t be here. We so shouldn’t be here it can almost be persuasively argued that we aren’t here, that we are, in effect, virtual. And our brief, present reign is characterized by ingenious and puzzling bits of joinery. Our touching terror of loose ends has us piecemealing all kinds of things so that no awkward termini need affront of discomfit us. Sidewalks meet streets, travel for blocks and then stop, or as we say, end. But where a sidewalk ends you will likely find some bit of machined urban planning, some formed appurtenance, a thing. The thing has a design function; it is to mitigate the ending of another thing of purpose. Walls meet floors, buildings conjoin, and the seam-centric work of human planners bespeaks a generalized belief that we have arrived and are determined to capably glue the parts together into a familiar whole.
Quantum Field Theory features, among other mild insanities, the snap-crackle-pop appearance of ‘virtual particles’ that appear very briefly and then annihilate. We are that, in our shirts, blouses and tasseled dress shoes, in our hats and coats and shorts and unembarrassed corduroy ensembles. The insensate scalability of Time makes our duration as individual Things infinitesimally, improbably brief. And yet we are materially indefatigable. The Law of the Conservation of Mass says that the quantity of matter is unchanging through all space and time; matter cannot be created or destroyed, only moved around; horses become apples, become clouds and comets, become wondrous drifting interstellar smoke. This means, among many other things, that the bone running down the middle of either of your thighs will specifically inhabit the roiling undercrusts of the Earth in eons to come, and thereafter the silent bell jar of deepest space and time. Sentence fragment. Your leg bone and Jayne Mansfield’s head will survive every cataclysm, every Big Bang yet to come. Hers is not such a special head but for the lore it wears like an especially difficult hat. It’s no more or less momentous than your leg bone. Your femur.
You will leave your consciousness behind. Strike that; reverse it. It will fly quietly out of your cooling carapace at the moment of your heat death, a warm tiny vapor gone to some unrealized quantum brane or maybe to the clear air over your living room carpet and the startled bridge players there. But your lovingly machined parts, in describable pieces or in atomized clouds of Stuff, will inhabit this Place. In 600,000 years your femur will be someplace on earth. Know. Is it true that infinite time naturally yields the realization of every single possibility? Intuitively it seems so. Given the fullness of time, then, you can stare up at the Crab Nebula, or cast your gaping glance to the general vicinity of idiotically distant z8_GND_5296, and know you are there in a thrilling present tense.
Gawp all you want at the Hubble Deep Field. * (sighs distractedly with something like frustration while biting a burnt veggie burger) * We awaken only very very very briefly and then are cast out into Everywhen. Why do we awaken? There are no purposeless moving parts in this machine. What is this for, cognition? The other animals procreate and eat and flee their adversaries without it. Why do we need it? Why awaken at all? Is our immeasurable little snap of wakefulness the door we have to hurry through? I think it is.