Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Monday Musings 304 - Monday Musings - Starry eyed under the starry skies !

Monday Musings - Starry eyed under the starry skies !
A colleague of mine recommended a night camp that a group of amateur astronomers hold in the outskirts of Mumbai. ‘Khagol Mandal’ as the group is called is a motley collection of astronomy aficionados who have been holding such monthly camps for the benefit of lay people with intent of introducing the mysteries of the skies. It is a non profit group who only drive is to share with others what they find fascinating and inspiring – to gaze into the night sky and be overwhelmed with its enormity. I can never thank my colleague enough.
The evening begins at 7 pm and goes up till 5 in the morning. I came back with the following thoughts.
That it was exposure to a new field of enquiry goes without saying. One got to know about stars, their types, constellations and their peculiar shapes with gaping mouths. One realises that the night sky moves – that the sky till midnight is not the same thereafter, to the naked eye that is.
One came to know that personkind (mankind is pass̩ and sexist you see!) was interested in the mysteries of the skies right from the start Рthe Greeks, the Arabs and ancient Indians had their own perspective on what they saw up there and how they related it to what was happening to them down here. The results were a full range Рfrom moronic to philosophical and from inanity to the sublime.
Astronomy has a lot to thank to the early Arab world – a large number of stars up there have Arabic names. The current Arab world could do well to remind themselves of their glorious past.
Here was a group of 30 years olds giving back to the field of their vocation handsomely. I asked them what got them to astrology (at least one of them was a PHD in astronomy and working with the Bhabha Atomic Centre) – to which they answered that as kids they attended this very program and got hooked forever.
I asked them what makes them do this month after month. They were quite flustered at the stupidity of my question because to them this was quite obvious – that they loved astronomy and they love talking about it even more and that this was their way of sharing with others the joy and the mystique that they experience every time they look up to gaze the night sky.
3o year olds were giving back to their profession! I felt like a petty hoarder. How much more time before I start giving back?
It is quite wrong, philosophically speaking, that the centre of the world is the Sun. Actually we are at the centre of our worlds. Our own narrative is often as follows – that everything else exists only in relation to us, that everything and everyone exists to serve us, to make us feel better, loved and validated. Since in most cases the narrative begins from ‘I’ – it also ends with ‘I’. Our sense of importance, worth and therefore esteem is a convoluted manifestation of that ‘One voice inside one man’s/woman’s mind/heart/soul’. Every time there is a deviation from the script – that that ‘I’ is threatened, our world comes collapsing down. That is more or less the story of every human being who is ‘normal’.
Gazing at the night sky and knowing about its enormity is philosophically speaking, a very humbling and liberating experience. We are a speck of dust on the earth, which is speck of dust in our galaxy, which is a speck of dust amongst all other galaxies. We should stop taking ourselves too seriously.
My big take away was this astronomical trivia. It appears that the universe is expanding, the sun is expanding and just about a billion of years the sun will explode (Supernova), and earth as we know it will be gone.
So here is to all those who are irked by messy traffic, pesky relationships, irritable colleagues, nagging friends, and intolerable bosses; Here is to all that makes you feel so important at times as if you are running the world and all that makes you so miserable about yourself; Here is to all that appears so important to you today without which there appears to be no prospect of happiness and to that which appears the most depressing thing in your life which forms the last frontier between you and your eternal bliss –Remember it will all be gone in a billion years. Don’t fuss over anything too much.
Now Please pour yourself a stiff One ! ||||

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