A moment of mind-blowing clarity

Sometimes, I have moments of mind-blowing clarity, epiphany, and illumination when I observe something that I thought I understood and accepted as scientific and factual truth in my limited tiny human way, then I find a new way to experience that thing, and my eyes are opened even wider than I thought possible and entire world’s of wonder are revealed – like living jewels floating in a sea of blackness. This happened tonight when I placed my eye to a telescope and peered at the distant planet Saturn and its moon Titan. Absolutely beautiful and mind-expanding was my experience peering through a rather inexpensive telescope from the porch of a beach house on Edisto Island, SC through 1.2 billion kilometers (746 million miles or 8.2 times farther from the sun than Earth) of space and time. Although Saturn looked like a tiny yellow ball surrounded by glowing golden rings and its fascinating giant yellowish moon Titan a shining point of light adjacent to the planet, I was blown away that I was actually seeing it in reality, as it existed in space and time.

Yes, I have seen it before – recently with my own telescope, at professional observatories, and so on – but the most memorable time was the first time many, many years ago – back in the late 70s when I peered at it through a friend’s dad’s telescope on the same night we watched Skylab crossing over only hours before it fell back to earth. But way back then I was a kid and I did not have a lifetime of experience with which to filter and understand my experience – tonight was very different and so much more powerful because tonight I saw Saturn again in reality. It was not a close-up photo taken by Hubble, a space probe, or a mountain-top observatory…it was a real experience that I lived and felt deeper than I ever thought possible. It was visceral, powerful, moving, mind-expanding, and all those other big words that try to do it justice but really cannot. It was the crushing, humbling, reality that we are such miniscule creatures yet we have built this incredible ability to see reality as it really is and to understand our tiny place in that reality. As Carl Sagan put it: “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

I was unable to acquire a photo due to technological limitations so the photo I have included is almost exactly what I observed although it was taken with a bit larger telescope.

This experience has reinforced what I have known for many years and what I live by:

  1. Experiential education is the best way to teach a person a thing, no matter what that thing is. Turn off your tv and get off your butt and get outside, look through a telescope, play in the mud, climb a tree, travel to other places, eat strange foods, meet new people, climb mountains, swim seas, raft rivers, ride a bike, do good things, be nice, make a difference, coexist with all lifeforms, live in continuous awe of the amazing, grand, ancient and wondrous nature that is all around us and you will better off for it – and remember that all the craziness and insanity of today matters not at all when compared to the vast nature of space, time and the cosmos.
  2. We are very, very small. Do not take things so seriously, live, laugh, love and above all else – do good things!
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Be More Like Jesus

I encountered this on social media and it made me think: we should all be more like the real Jesus.

Ever since I first learned about the real Jesus (not the twisted popular “white-washed,” construct many blindly follow today) I have always tried to carry a few of his teachings somewhere deep inside my heart. I always try my best to be kind, loving, merciful, and respectful to all living things – because my momma, Sir David Attenborough, and Jesus taught me so.

Since I am a naturalist and science communicator and I regularly teach folks about our deep, genetic connections to nature and all living things (evolution by natural selection), and cleaner energy and transportation choices (renewable energy and EV’s) – it seems that I very often find myself telling true, evidence-supported, peer-reviewed stories that make people think a lot about a lot of things – and for some bizarre reason these stories often upset/anger people – especially some closed-minded, holier than thou religious people…and those of certain political affiliations. (see, I’ll bet that comment upset some of you – so be it 🙂 )

Most of my friends are like me so they are: unpopular nerds, “weirdos,” geeks, scientists, technophiles, nature and animal lovers, and long-haired, pierced, tattooed, tree-hugging, hippie-type, dirt worshipers, “witches,” atheists, agnostics, and those with different colored skin than I have – as well as those who think and learn differently, and those who identify the way their brain says to – not the way society expects them to.

Oh, and guess what: some of these wonderful “sinners” may or may not partake of certain plant/fungi-based diets/herbs that – for whatever the bizarre reasons – some have chosen not to agree with.
(I’ll bet that comment upset some of you – so be it 🙂)

These wonderful, unique, open-minded, free-thinking, free-spirited, people – myself included – are the types that in days of old would have been arrested and hurriedly burned at the stake, fed to large, drooling, carnivores, or stoned to death by the toxic religiopolitical establishment. In fact, I would much rather hang out with what some of the religious/politically close-minded people of yesterday and today might call “sinners” because these people are:

1. Not usually “sinners” at all, they are just people who are tired of the way things are and they are going against the status quo because they only want freedom from those things and ways that are wrong with the world such as hate, war, prejudice, injustice, the pollution and destruction of nature and wildlife for short-term and/personal profit, and obviously all the greedy religious leaders and politicians.

2. These are some of the nicest, most loving, caring, and compassionate people you will ever meet.

(I’ll bet that comment upset some of you – so be it 🙂)

In fact, it seems I do all these things – the sleeping on boats part as well since I once fell asleep on a top bunk in the crew quarters of the USS North Carolina battleship memorial (pictured below).

How you may ask – it is a long story that involves: hanging out with college friends at the beach, missing another boat, a knife fight in a parking garage (that I was not involved in but quickly extracted myself from), sleeping in my car in a vacant lot, a massive coastal thunderstorm, an inquisitive security guard (Barney), a dead eel, some rather heavily amorous teenagers in a dark “alley,” and a battleship with 60-year-old bunks that looked very comfortable to someone who had a very long night but just really needed to get some sleep.

BTW: I am not and would not compare myself to Jesus – but I really do like the old bumper sticker that reads: I like your Christ but not your Christians. Be more like the real Jesus.

Do only good things.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

(I’ll bet all of that upset some of you – so be it and say what you will – my job here is done 🙂