The cosmic ballet

Very recently, an astronomical event has stirred the world — Super Blue Blood Moon. Shiamak Ali has experienced this event, impelled by the solemnity of it, he contemplates on the meaning of life and existence in this modern technology driven world.

 

The moon over the Beatles statues on Penny Lane, Liverpool  — Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The moon over the Beatles statues on Penny Lane, Liverpool — Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Have you ever pondered over life and how existence came to be? My thoughts are not confined to the parameters of the known universe, but beyond. Each of our individual life is a grain of sand in an endless desert.

We exist, at this very moment, with infinite non-existence bearing down on us from either side. The world we live in is an abode of information and sentiments. Human beings who have existed and will exist, people we care for and love, the accumulation of all our hardships and triumphs, countless optimistic beliefs, religions, ideologies and economic doctrines — all racing and fighting for supremacy.

In this consumerist era, it is common understanding that only the wealthy can enjoy the splendors of this universe. Though true to a certain extent, I find solace in nature, for it accords a divine, unadulterated connection between me and the world. I had the opportunity to find such solitude recently on 31st January while witnessing the ‘Super Blue Blood Moon’.

I was made aware of this rare astronomical event through my father. No, he doesn’t have an interest in cosmology. He’s just more into social networking and keeps a tab on what’s happening around.

I looked further into it and estimated a time when it might be visible in Bangladesh. What encouraged me to take a special interest in this event was its rarity, it last occurred 152 years ago. On the day, accompanied by a friend who shares similar interests, I went to Purbachal to witness the event after a failed attempt from Gulshan. By the time we had reached, the moon began revealing itself from the eclipse. Although slightly disheartened being little late, I was determined to make the most of this experience.

The road where we stopped was fairly isolated and dark, surrounded by fallow land. The moon gradually awoke from its momentary slumber and captivated its audience with an amazing sight. The stars shied away as if to conceal themselves behind the clouds as the moon illuminated the tenebrous sky, as if paying tribute to the glories of nature.

With my gaze focused on the moon I was reminded of an odd, yet pleasant dream that I saw in my early teens. I was in a dark, deserted cul-de-sac neighbourhood. This wasn’t the kind of darkness that deprives you of your most prominent sense and substitutes it with paralysing fear. This was more like a subtle darkness similar to a picture taken with an old camera. One of my most frequently listened to songs at the time, ‘Until we say Goodbye’ by Joe Satriani was playing in the background of the dream. As I looked behind to see the exit of the cul-de-sac, my attention was fixated towards a frighteningly close moon — seemed near to inevitable collision. However, it hung like an ill specter and didn’t move in the slightest. Although fairly bright itself, it wasn’t spreading its luminosity like it should be. Strangely drawn by the spectacle, I began walking towards the moon but awoke from sleep putting an end to the dream.

That night, I leaned on the car and put on the same song, thinking it would be befitting for the occasion as the moon had adopted its complete form like a monumental halo in the dark blue sky. I was entranced as if I was reading an epic scene from an old epic. The celestial event was similar to that of a ballet performance. The Earth, Sun and Moon are working in sequel to showcase a flawless performance for spectators across the globe.

The Earth helping the Moon by refracting the Sun’s light to give it a majestic rusty-red hue before slowly dissipating into complete darkness, only for the protagonist to emerge for the last part of the performance for all to revel in its glory.

Although silent through most of the event, experiencing this with a friend made it much more worthwhile. It’s not always necessary to speak when with a person — sometimes sharing a silence is a good way to bond with another.

Two other friends joined us shortly after and engaged in conversation after a quick glance at the moon. They seemed fairly unimpressed by it and continued speaking about their day and the latest gossip while occasionally fiddling with their phone.

Highly disappointed, I thought to myself why the superficiality of social life and technology should be put on such a high pedestal by the majority! The harsh reality is that being born into such a dynamic environment we are probably left with a single choice — go with the flow or risk being thrown into the depths of irrelevancy.

Technology and social life are synonymous for our generation. We live in an age where we upload pictures every other day to remind people of our existence. Facebook, Instagram, ‘Likes’ dictate social superiority. The purpose of technology is to bring the world together but we’ve never been further apart. We have lost the spiritual connection between ourselves and the natural world around us. It’s much easier to drop a ‘Like’ at a picture of the super moon than to actually go and see it, feel it in person.

We are all coping with our hectic lives and problems but once in a while we should all take a breather and admire the beautiful world around us. Life is short, rather short if not lived. A verse comes to mind from a song called ‘Bhindeshi Tara’ by the band Chondrobindu, ‘What is that hurry of yours? Please cross the road safely (তোমার কিসের এত তাড়া? রাস্তা পার হবে সাবধানে). It seems we are sprinting for things that sprint faster into non-existence.

The experience as a whole was spiritual and thought-provoking. Having the opportunity to experience such an epic cosmic ‘performance’ was a chance of a lifetime. While contemplating over the event on my way home, I understood that the super moon did not only bring mental satisfaction through a pleasant sight but intellectual satisfaction by encouraging my thought. Caught in a similar situation to that of  deconstructing a song or dance sequence to find the meaning within, I realised, there might be no meaning to be found.

 

Shiamak Ali is a student of Monash University.

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