“How much would you pay for the Universe?”, was the question asked by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. What is the universe worth? There is a curious school of thought which makes some regard themselves as above and beyond the world. They seem to look at the Cosmos with a strange detachment – as if they can divine it without discovering anything about themselves.
But we are part of the Cosmos. Inextricably so. To know the Cosmos is to know ourselves.
There are some who would rather not think of such things. Some who question those whose business it is to question. “Why do you want to know?”, they ask. Some want to give up even before they begin. Should we let sleeping dogs lie?
Yet, our curiosity has long been the hallmark of our species. We want to know. Is there any evolutionary advantage to this? Perhaps. I will leave that to the biologists. But what is certain is that this curiosity has served us well over the millenia.
There are some traits which we have not been able to shake off. We tend to group ourselves within clusters without realizing that we are connected to everyone else. Before we are black or white or brown; before we are Indians, Americans or Chinese; before we are Hindus, Muslims and Christians, we are human. We are the descendants of a tribe of bushmen who migrated from Africa more than 50000 years ago. Will we ever appreciate that?
Going back even further, we are connected to every living thing on this planet. From the humblest bacterium to the most gigantic mammal, we share the essential building blocks of life. We are nothing but combinations of chemicals which, for an unknown reason, gained consciousness and populated the planet in an explosion of life. Will we look at a chimpanzee and realize that our DNA differs by around 2%; that we share a common ancestor?
And finally, the most poetic fact about the Cosmos. We are connected to literally everything we see. Every bit of matter is made of atoms, atoms that were spewed from the explosions of entire stars billions of years in the past. When you die, your body disintegrates and the atoms that make you, go back to the Cosmos. Parts of you will end up as other people, parts of you as a rock, you will end up in the ocean, in trees, in grass, in the air and a part of you will reach the stars. When you consider this, you realize how small minded you are when you worry about the little things. And you realize how absurd it is to fear death or to imagine a heaven where you spend an eternity in boredom.
The Cosmos made you, you are part of it. It is all that is within and without. Enjoy your moment under the sun and live your life free because really, there is nothing to fear. The Cosmos will take care of you.