The Roman God

Is that I’m dreaming and I’m just refusing to wake up?  At this moment I look around me and everything seems new, like I’ve never seen it before.  What I know is only from pictures in books and movies.  But here I am, standing in the center of a room that looks like a quarantine room from a movie about a killer virus.  All six of us, we stand at various places in the room in our bland, scrub-like uniforms, leaning against doorways or standing still like we’re trying to remember what that feels like.  We’ve all just been revived from the hyper sleep and the effects are worse than they described to us.  We all look incredibly hung over.

I’m one of the leaners.  I have my head resting against the door frame to my bunk and I’m trying I’m watching to see which ones in the group are worse off than me.  One of the ladies standing near the center of the room near the round conference table has her arms wrapped around herself like she’s freezing.  She could be, but she’s not shivering.  The temperature for me could be cooler, because I feel like my head needs a ten pound bag of ice on it.

Our tour guide comes into the room, bright and peppy.  She’s a sweet lady, but I’m dreading to hear the sound of her voice.  Obviously, she’s been awake must longer than the rest of us, and I don’t think that’s fair.  Plus, none of us are going to want to hear anything she has to say at this point.  She begins by laying out folders on the table while we all watch in anticipation.  We’re about to be briefed on what we should expect in the coming days as we arrive at our destination.  She’ll walk us through how to maintain our bodies, the exercising, the diet, etc.  Also, she’ll be be reminding us of itinerary for the remainder of the trip.  We’re to orbit Saturn and then Titan and take shuttles down to see the surface.  We’ve payed a lot of money for this so everything must go according to planned.

We are invited to take our seats.  Each one of us looks around the circle at our peers and smiles sympathetically.  None of us have met before the trip, but we have become close, especially through the suffering of the training.  These sterile white walls aren’t much different from the walls of the facility where we met and prepared for the departure.  It does seem like the time on this ship was shorter than the time spent together on Earth, but we have been moving through the dark of space for over two years now.  This place is now our home, despite how unwelcoming it feels.

After our briefing, we are given leave to wander the ship and familiarize ourselves with it.  We will be spending several weeks here.  The only thing I’m interested in seeing though is the big planet itself.  I’ve always wanted to see it ever since I was a boy.  I wanted to see it because even though I had faith in its existence, true belief would only come from looking upon its majesty with my own eyes.  And what a sight it was.  I stepped into the observation room, and I was stunned by the sheer size of the planet.  The furthest wall of the room was made of glass, and Saturn filled it completely.  My breath caught in my throat.  What I once thought was just a brown ball of gas turned out to be a beautiful golden sphere that consumed my vision and sparkled against the pitch blackness around it.  I saw the gases move and the colors twist and change and the once impossible planet was made new before my eyes every second.

And the rings.  Of course the rings.  They were something to behold.  You could watch them spinning for hours and forget about everything.  And I did.  Our perception of time as humans is relative to where the sun is in our sky.  I didn’t have that to tell me how long I stood and looked upon the greatness before me, but I imagine the sun passed overhead those back on Earth, possibly more than once, as I was hypnotized.

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Behind the Time Capsule

This could be the most ironic statement ever made, but I think time capsules are out of date.  Sure, back when I was a kid we’d fill them full of old wrappers from candy we liked and slap bracelets from Showbiz Pizza, but now there’s really no point.  If someone wants to see what we were into twenty-five, fifty, even one hundred years ago, all they have to do is fire up the old internet box.  Actually, come to think of it, those are obsolete, too.  The internet is in our pockets now.  Not only can I look up what Pepsi cans looked like back before I was born, but if I have the scratch I can buy one and put it on a shelf in my house.  No need to go digging in a field somewhere like a character from a Robert Louis Stevenson novel.

So, no, I wouldn’t put anything in the time capsule.  Why?  Because everything that we could possibly want to put in this time capsule is already in one somewhere.  We are obsessed with nostalgia, so the things we would gather to “channel the essence of our current moment” would rehashes of older stuff.  We’re all into Star Wars and Marvel comic characters right now, right?  Yeah.  Just what everyone else was into twenty years ago.  The only difference is that the movies they made about comic books when we were kids were mostly crap.  So if we really have to have something in there, just put movie posters of Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans in there.  I would say also put a Star Wars poster in there, but I haven’t seen a single one on the internet that doesn’t look like someone with way too much time in their mom’s basement made it.

Another alternative for these time capsules, if it’s going to be another thing to add to our nostalgic interests, is to rocket them into deep space.  Have you seen what it was that we sent out on the Voyagers?  Records.  Sure, the space probes are equipped with the means with which to play these golden discs, but by the time they actually reach an intelligent life form in another galaxy, those folks are going to be way past that phase.  By then a CD collection is going to be what’s cool to have.  Now is the perfect time to start sending updated versions of our hippy peace music or whatever it was we put on those records.  Forty years is enough of a gap for these aliens to be able to see just how we have improved our technology, specifically our music delivery systems.  In fact, just start blasting flash drives into space full of records. What, those things are like 50¢ a piece now, aren’t they?  You can even get one shaped like your favorite Marvel character.  Or, if we’d rather the experience be more customizable, we can just send out a space capsule filled with iTunes gift cards.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Time Capsule.”

The Dark Side of the Moon

I’m into talking about my feelings and junk, but I’m not sure anyone is interested in reading about the last time that I was lonely.  It feels too personal.  I actually cherish my alone time.  Sure I’m a social person, in fact I receive a great amount of joy communing with my fellow man, but that can be tiring.  Sometimes I just want to be where no one else is and just be silent.  I need to be alone with my thoughts so I can hear them and even say them out loud like a crazy person.

But now the question I must ask, and when you read this in your head, please imagine Lawrence Fishburne narrating, is:  “What is Loneliness?  How do you define loneliness?”  If loneliness is simply a feeling of isolation, then I think many of us would have a hard time actually saying that we have experienced true loneliness.  The only people I can imagine that would actually know what that feels like are folks that live in a forest in the mountains by themselves and the dudes that flew the command modules while their counterparts were goofing off on the moon.  Although, I read recently that Michael Collins of Apollo 11 actually did not feel lonely while orbiting the moon by himself.  In fact, he felt proud to be a part of what was happening.  But these people are isolated because they are “off the grid”.  They don’t have contact with the outside world, especially on the back side of the moon, and that is something that many of us are unfamiliar with.  If there is any time that we experience isolation, unless we too are on the far side of the moon, all we have to do is call someone.  Or if you’re me, wait for someone to tweet something.  Also there is the option of engaging in a mindless activity such as a video game or a movie so that the brain is able to shut off the part that is aware you are alone.  Our world provides countless distractions for our minds so we don’t have to be in the moment with our feelings if we don’t want to.  Plus social media and cell phones have significantly reduced the size of the world to make anyone available at any time if you have the right number.  You aren’t going to be lonely if you don’t want to be.  Personally, that’s not ok for me, but to each his own.

Loneliness though is likely more complicated than just feeling like you’re by yourself.  Most people probably experience this type of feeling after some kind of tragedy or big change.  The feeling is that you are the only one experiencing what you’re experiencing, and no one understands what you are going through.  In my humble opinion, there are two ways to deal with that:

1)  Embrace that feeling.  Take pride in the fact that you are traversing a frontier so foreign and frightening that to successfully emerge on the other side will be a triumph not just for you but for mankind.  The strength you must possess to travel unknown territory without any sort of direction or semblance of a plan is terrifying, but you should face all those feelings head-on and know that it is life that you are living, my friend.  No one chooses this path, but once you have started, there is no way out but through it.  But at the other side there is light, a light that you will have forgotten the beauty of and it will be the most spectacular light you have ever seen.  We all cannot wait to hear about it.

2)  Don’t believe any of the feelings.  You aren’t special.  Even if you feel cold and alone and there is no one that could possibly understand the struggle you are facing, there is someone somewhere who does.  Because once upon a time there was a man that went through the exact same trauma you did.  It doesn’t matter if that time was yesterday or a hundred years ago, there was a person just like you doing exactly what you are doing.  That is why you must reach out to those around you because we’re either going through it or gonna go through it and no one wants to feel like no one cares.  If you’re a decent human being, you care, because you know you’re not special.

But what do I know?  I’m just sharing my opinion that I probably borrowed from someone else smarter than me.  I like to think of myself as an enlightened man, but the true sign of wisdom is the acknowledgment that you could in fact be full of crap.  However, if that’s the case, I’m like the wisest dude on the planet.  Take that, Dalai Lama.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cut Off.”