Curiosity: To Mars and beyond

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People don’t receive stars often enough
in their adult lives.
It’s nice to be reminded sometimes
that we all have a bit of celebrity inside of us.
Video games have the right idea.
Last time I was given the gift of nuclear fission
was on a sticker chart when I was nine.
Of course, this fourth grader named J
had twice as many stickers as anyone else
(he could make an entire constellation
with all the stars he collected.)
We hated J.

But he was just one in the constellation of lives
that passed by the “you must be this high”
graphed lines on a kindergarten star chart.
We were too close to the ground to see
how all of us were bits of stardust
hoping one day to go supernova.

7 billion people seems like a lot.
But it’s nothing compared to
the crazy house party of bacteria
that cover a square inch of your duodenum
like a rave that goes on way past
your old brain’s bedtime.

Or that there are more ants
getting it on at this moment
than people who have ever lived.

Or that the farther we look into space,
the less static looks like snow
and more like the building blocks of life.

Or that an egg is not a dinosaur’s
way of making a dinosaur or even chicken;
a dinosaur is an egg’s way of making another egg.

Or, if every person on earth (plus the astronauts
who are lighter than helium)
represented a year (bear with me),
to show how long the black hole
at the center of our galaxy has been sucking in light,
we’d need twice as many folks.

Or, the real beauty:
that even though we are spinning on a spaceship
hurtling through the universe
like a crumb on a great cosmic plate
that’s been expanding since the Big Bang,
we still take the time
to chart our lives
like they’re red giants.

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