A Sense of DNA Level Déjà Vu [Part 3]

 

Over the course of this blog series’ first two installments, you and I’ve been teleporting back to my July 28th, telescopic “travels” to Mars. While, we’ve been exploring my astronomical, philosophical and theological observations / musings, we have yet to ferret and flesh out the underlying causes of my chronic, Mars Mania “affliction”… that is until now.

With Part 3 about to unfold, I pause to announce a slight course correction re my mission to the cosmos. Rather than revisiting this past Saturday’s viewing session, we’ll be reliving the return to my backyard open air observatory at 3:50 a.m. EDT (0750 GMT) on this very day… July 31st. I just had to “be there” at that precise moment… at the very pinnacle of 2018’s Mars and Earth rendezvous… to experience the almost palpable cosmic magic in the air.

Remaining ever mindful of Part 3’s content prerequisites, as I metaphorically wander about the heavens and the recesses of my mind, I start to zero in on the origins of my personal obsession with Mars.

As I wistfully gaze upward, I briefly consider the possibility that aliens might be doing the same. Only my not wanting to wake up my neighbors prevents me from yelling skyward at the top of my lungs, “Is there anybody out there?” Of course, my dismay regarding the present-day ideological disarray of my homeland… our home world… has certainly, detrimentally impacted my attitude (not unlike a meteor hit). How so? Well, were any ET’s to ever flyby my neighborhood, I’d instantly stick out my thumb and attempt to hitch a ride. Even if their motives were unclear… even if it’d be a certain, one-way trip for me… in a heartbeat… I’d still take my chances and opt to forever leave planet Earth.

Alas… long sigh… on this night… there are no such, extraordinary, extraterrestrial vehicular light patterns in the skies… soooooo… I must make the best of the ordinary.

And I do that, precisely, by granting free rein to my boyhood recollections. Naturally, Mars themed literary works come to mind. First up, my Middle Schooler era, figurative feasting upon my book club purchased, paperback copy of H. G. Wells’ page turner, Sci-Fi novel, The War of the Worlds. Next up, come my elementary school library visits… my checking out astronomy textbooks… their authors’ content, eventually, proving to be more fiction than fact. About the only thing they had ever gotten right? The Red Planet’s 24 hour and 37 minute diurnal rotation!

That’s about all anyone could ever expect from authors “infecting” themselves with the “contagion” of astronomer Percival Lowell’s over-imaginative “strain” of Mars Mania (and I do good-naturedly employ those enclosed in quotation marks, italicized words). Their perpetuation of his fantasyland… an irrigation canal networked, hospitable to humans, environment… coupled with my younger, overly impressionable mind… accounts for my own fantasies of becoming a spacefarer aboard NASA’s very first Mars-ward bound spacecraft.

My mind next crossfades to the plights of Sci-Fi stranded astronauts portrayed in films such as 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars (which takes literary liberties with the Daniel Defoe classic) and in 2015’s The Martian based on Andy Weir’s sci-fi book of the same title.

As these big screen drama scenes dissolve to the realm of the Sixtes era, small screen, Sci-Fi TV sitcom, I catch myself smiling as I recall My Favorite Martian episodes featuring earthling Tim O’Hara comedically interacting with his spacecraft crashed and marooned, ET “Uncle Martin”.

The TV images soon shift from the ridiculous to the sublime. Philosopher / astrophysicist / author Carl Sagan… via both his book and PBS miniseries Cosmos… presents his Blues For A Red Planet chapter / episode #5. That late, great man… the consummate scientist and dramatist… so adeptly, fact checks / debunks Lowellesque Mars Mania yet, simultaneously rekindles it with seasoned-by-science sanity. In his chapter’s / episode’s epilogue he even speculates…

“The power of Lowell’s idea may, just possibly, make it a kind of premonition. His canal network was built by Martians. Even this may be an accurate prophecy: If the planet ever is terraformed, it will be done by human beings whose permanent residence and planetary affiliation is Mars… The Martians will be us.”

It’s at that moment where my thoughts begin to set, along with Mars’ orb rapidly nearing the hazy, southwestern horizon. As I naked eye glimpse that bright orange dot slipping behind the approaching, thick veil of clouds, I begin loosening the clamps, separating my scope from its tripod.

As I look up one last time, my thoughts of Dr. Sagan’s Cosmos crossfade to his fictional work, Contact. It is during one of that film’s final scenes where silver screen star Jodie Foster… in the lead role of astronomer Ellie Arroway… so fervently… so eloquently… so tearfully serves upward, her own cosmic perspective as…

“A vision of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny and insignificant… and how rare and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. That we are not… that none of us are alone! I wish i could share that. I wish that everyone… if even for one moment… could feel that awe and humility and hope. That continues to be my wish.”

To continue conveying and living those same sentiments is my wish, too! Hopefully, you feel similarly!

While the gradual dimming of that bright orange dot… a.k.a. Mars 2018… is inevitable in the days and weeks to come, my oneness with our universe shall shine on brightly… eternally. My continually blogging about Mars… on similar cosmic topics… will be unavoidable. After all…

“Transcendental moments, such as these, are where one’s worldly concerns dissolve into the rarefied air. Minds tend to free associate / wander and welcome the timelessness of it all. A sense of DNA level déjà vu also enters the mix… after all… has not humankind been stargazing ever since first standing up on two feet? Ever since that (then) newly evolved posture first allowed us to look upward to the eternal heavens?”

 

As for part 4 to this series… stay tuned…

 

 

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Sunday Sermon (One Quick Limerick #031)

 

If mankind strays too much, sins sans remorse,

Our cross Creator won’t have much recourse,

He need not play active role,

He’ll let us dig our own hole,

His destroy Earth job, TO US, He’ll outsource!

 

Since, in this liberated male blogger’s opinion, there’s no place for sexism in any religion… and remaining mindful of the fact that Theologians do claim humans are made in God’s image… we must not ignore 50 percent of 7+ Billion people.

 

If our race strays too much, sins sans remorse,

Our wise Creator won’t have much recourse,

She need not play active role,

She’ll let us dig our own hole,

Her destroy Earth job, TO US, She’ll outsource!

 

DISCLAIMER from the Department of Second Thoughts: I don’t believe a female God would ever be a vengeful God. Indeed, She’d behave far more evolved, exhibit far much more patience and empathy… and as such… would work far, Far, FAR more diligently at preventing humankind’s violent, self-destructive end.

 

You can access more original limericks, poetry and lyrical parodies by clicking onto my poetry category.

 

Cleo, Theo & Cosmo (Bus Stop Chat #001) The 3 Meet!

An orange hued, hazy sunrise presides over another summery, muggy day in the bustling metropolis of Upland… bakes the pavement and skyscrapers… slow simmers the pungent blend of vehicular exhaust and fast food fumes.

There’s the general hubbub of humanity… the multitudes milling about… the engines, horns, sirens and jackhammers are all in play. Each component acts as an individual instrument in the soundtrack of city life.

The rat race begins, anew, as two men, in walking run mode, approach from opposite directions… a near photo finish as they bookend themselves onto the weatherworn bus stop bench and set down their Styrofoam coffee cups.

Paper napkins serve as makeshift mops to sop up perspiration from their brows. Upon catching their breath, they exchange perfunctory, good morning pleasantries. Their rush had been needless for, once more, the poorly funded, public transit system is punctually running late.

“Looks like another scorcher brewing… almost too hot to be drinking coffee. But I’m not about to give up my caffeine buzz,” sighs the disheveled looking man seated on the left. Dressed in white polo shirt and faded blue jeans, his thirtyish, in need of a shave face is topped off with the bedhead look.

“By the way… the name is Cosmo.”

“Pleased to meet you, Cosmo. I’m Theodoros… but just call me Theo”, says the fiftyish looking, greying, bearded man, off to the right. He then adds, “And, I wouldn’t give up my daily java jolt, either… no matter how hot the day, or, for that matter, the coffee may be.”

They first lean in sideways to shake hands and next drink their espresso.

“Couldn’t help but notice the Roman collar, Theo. Where’s your parish?”

“Resurrection Church… over on the east side.”

“So what brings you over to this side of our fair city?”

“I’m to be a guidance counselor and instructor… temporarily assigned to Andrew’s Youth Center… every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In essence, I’ll be a surrogate parent to latchkey kids… keep ‘em intellectually engaged and out of mindless mischief. It’s really tough when moms and dads each work two or more jobs to pay their bills. The resultant dwindling quality time is doing immeasurable harm to the family unit. But there I go again… rambling on and on. I’ll bet you’re sorry you asked.”

“No, not at all. What you’re doing is admirable. By intervening and interacting you’re working towards the betterment of society.”

“Thanks for saying so. Since I’m mostly paid in compliments, your kind words have made me a wealthy man.” Taking another sip from his cup he thinks aloud, “I do hope I’ve figured out the correct bus routes and schedule… wouldn’t want to be late on my first day.”

“Hmm… Andrew’s Youth Center, you say… that’s affiliated with the church over on Monroe Blvd… is it not?”

“One in the same… the Center is right in the church basement. You know so much about us, my son, are you by any chance Catholic?”

“Once upon a time… as a young boy. The word that now best describes me is ‘lapsed’.”

“If you don’t mind my asking… why did you leave the church?”

“Well, it’s a long story, Father, but not to worry… if memory serves… all you need know now is the Route 33 bus will take you to your destination.”

All too familiar with how folks handily dodge the ‘why did you stray’ question, Theo stifles his knowing smile…

“Good to know I’m heading in the right direction. So… where, pray tell, are you heading this a.m.?”

“Well… it looks like we’re both in the biz of educating young minds. The community organizers who run Kids’ Corner have me on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule, too.

“I’m familiar with that fine organization. So, what’ll you be teaching?”

“I’m on sabbatical from U of C Berkeley, where I teach astrophysics. Since I’ve now got plenty of free time, by day, I’ll be a volunteer teaching astronomy for beginners, by nights I’ll be scoping out the heavens at the San Gorgonio Mountain observatory. Regrettably, with light pollution and smog problems, heavenly matters aren’t what they used to be.”

“So true. I’m facing down problems with my own brand of heavenly matters, too. These days, people seem to deem God as unimportant.”

“Well, I don’t believe folks have actually stopped believing, Father. While I cannot speak for everyone, I think regular folks are finding the church’s overall image off-putting and irrelevant to their needs. You know… stained glass, palatial churches that could rival St. Peter’s Basilica… past popes who’d look right at home lodged in Trump Towers.

“But our new pontiff, Francis, is trying to change all that…” Theo starts to remind…

“Well, I did say past popes…” Cosmo interjects. A police cruiser whizzing by with flashing reds and blues and wailing siren nearly drowning him out.

At that moment, a twentyish looking woman, wearing blue denim jeans, unbuttoned work shirt, tee and heavy steel toed boots approaches the bus stop… clutching a Styrofoam coffee cup in one hand… a cell phone in the other. She immediately goes into a circular pacing mode… impatiently… holding her cell phone skyward… frantically waving it about while muttering, almost inaudibly, her “c’mon, c’mon, c’mon” pep talk directed at that unresponsive, barely functional device.

“Looks like we’re not the only ones with upward connection problems,” Cosmo quips. Quickly checking his own cell, he speaks up, “Excuse me… I’m getting a strong signal… four out of four bars. You may borrow my phone.”

“You’re a life saver,” she says while approaching the bench. As she sits down and keys in the number she mutters, “That damned bus is going to make me late for work again… and it’s only my second week on the job. By now, Manuel… that’s my boss… is probably thinking that I’ve flaked on him again. He’ll likely fire my ass.”

Now speaking fluent Spanish into the phone, only Theo can understand her side of the conversation. Of course it’s easy to fill the gist of the rest. That’s in the form of her crisis averted, call’s end sigh of relief. Handing the phone back to Cosmo… she’s once again profuse with her thanks.

“Well… since it looks like we’re stuck here for awhile… I’m Cleo.” The round of handshakes ensue as she continues, “I’m a carpenter working over at the Devonshire construction site.”

Theo and Cosmo’s facial expressions “out” their lingering provincialism.

“Hey guys, welcome to the 21st century… don’t look so shocked. These days, women carpenters can and actually do cut it.”

“And I’ll bet you have plenty of power saws to back up your statement, too, “ jokes Cosmo. As the chuckles subside he adds, “I’m Cosmo… I teach astrophysics over at Berkley. As for my newfound friend…”

While conspicuously adjusting his collar and, clearing his throat, the other man interrupts, “I’m Theo…”

“Well ain’t that a hoot!” Cleo chimes in, “You’re Theo the theologian and he’s Cosmo the cosmologist.”

The group laughter gets drowned out as three 18-wheelers rumble by.

“Devonshire… wow… that’s really upscale,” Cosmo says while competing with the street noise.

“Yeah, tell me about it… the site’s billboard out front boasts, ‘Outstanding new homes starting in the five millions’… blah, blah, blah. Hell, I couldn’t eke out the mortgage payments on a birdhouse in that soon to be snooty, gated community.”

“Affordable housing? Does that even exist anymore?” laments Cosmo.

Theo frowns his silent, horizontally nodded answer to those Qs as Cleo asks, “Just where are everyday, average folks supposed to live, any way?”

“For sure, that’s a problem that that insensitive unholy, Trump, could never begin to fathom… let alone fix,” adds Theo.

“Amen to that!” she sighs and then looks down at her cell’s chronometer. “Guys, we’ve only known each other for ten minutes and… if you’ll excuse the construction worker parlance… I’d say we’re already building some great rapport.”

“In this one instance, I don’t even mind the buses running late,” Theo agrees.

“I’ll ditto that… but better late than never,” Cosmo says while gesturing leftward.

A three-bus convoy is now barreling down upon them.

“Any chance we’ll see one another again?” Cleo queries.

“Well, as for us guys, we’ll both be here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning,” says Theo.

“Thru late September, if not longer,” adds Cosmo, “How about you, Cleo?

“Well, since the only day my carpool can’t get me to work is on Fridays, it looks like we’ll all be meeting back at this bench a week from now.”

“Here’s to next Friday,” says Theo as all three raise and carefully tap their coffee cups… make a toast to their newfound friendship.

“You two like bagels?” she asks. Since both men nod vertically, she adds, “OK, that’ll be my treat for next week.”

Just then the busses all come to a squeaky, air-braked halt. The doors fling open to admit Cleo, Theo and Cosmo. Waving their till we meet again farewells, each climbs aboard to complete the final leg of their Friday morning commute.

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A note to my readers: My game plan is to post these Cleo, Theo & Cosmo Bus Stop Chats on most, but not all, Fridays. These three fictitious characters will engage in political / social commentary… sometimes in agreement… other times not. But either way, the important thing, here, is that no matter how heated a discussion may get, they’ll remain civil towards each other… which, btw, is the way it should be… but usually is not… in our real world.

My apologies for this first installment running a bit long… that was mainly due to character development requirements. Future chats will focus more on (what else?) the actual chats… and consequently, be of shorter duration.