Speculations on a Pointless Journey

March 11, 2008
By Milo Toor, Palo Alto, CA

Asteroids are hard to get situated on. Who likes to sit on a craggy, cold lump of rock? Life might not be so tough if only I had a place to rest, a place to sleep. My predicament might be endurable if only there was somewhere to drop and shut my eyes. But there is not. And at this point, I wish there was somewhere to comfortably lie more than I wish there was a way back home. There was a time when rescue and return were on my mind, but that time and those thoughts died long ago. Now I just focus on where next to sit. As if living on an asteroid was not humbling enough.

Always spinning. Never still, always spinning. Riding a carousel never bothered anyone, but no one ever rode a carousel for five-hundred years. No one ever spent half a millennium turning in a circle. Revolving, revolving, around, around. It gets to you. Combine this with the seating issue and the vibrancy of reality dims just a tad. You would be amazed how dismally rotten life can be when rotating interminably while staring at nothing, with not even a heap of soggy hay to relax in.

As I said, it gets to you. Coping with discomfort and solitude for as long as I have can be taxing. The best thing to do is to ignore the circumstances, to drift away from the asteroid. Think. Look around. Admire the universe outside yourself.

Stare into space. Outer space. The profound, the majestic, the mighty, the unknown. Planets. Moons. Comets. Stars! At least, so I chanted to myself upon embarking on my asteroid. The allure of the magnificent put off loneliness and fear for the first week of the odyssey, but before too long, the stark emptiness shooed away any lingering sensation of wonder. Sure, there are stars all around me—further hindering already failing attempts at sleep—distant specks of light, never dimming, never fading, never flickering, never changing. If not for my asteroid’s persistent spiral, they would never even move. Sure, there are stars. About as inspiring as dirt.

Once I saw a planet. I think it was Saturn—it had a ring. I will never be able to describe it. How does anyone describe the highlight of the past five centuries of their existence? It was exhilarating. It was like a glass of water in the middle of a desert. It was a great feast. It was far, far away—I knew it—but all the same it was closer to me than anything or anyone I had ever known. But naturally, I had to leave it. I came towards it, I fell in love with it, and I left it. For the first time, I could sense motion. Movement. I am doing more than sitting on an asteroid, spinning somewhere in the galaxy. I am moving. Forward. Who knows where I am going? If Saturn could come to me, imagine what more could? Hope was ignited.

But a man left isolated on a hunk of rock for hundreds of years is prone to pessimism. The planet is gone and now where am I? Back in the virtual middle of nothing. Back in the sensationless void. Who cares about Saturn anymore? What is Saturn but just another floating mass? That planet was never there to preach hope. It was there to preach reality.

This is an abyss. It has no direction, no purpose, no meaning. It is empty of intention and of cause. I am moving. Saturn did teach me that. But moving towards something? Sailing to a higher end? I am drifting further into the vast expansion of blackness. Maybe there is some hidden power beckoning me, calling the cowboy and his twirling asteroid bronco. Maybe some supermassive black hole is tugging at me with its long gravitational arm. But where is the hope in that? I am either moving with no aim or target, or I am moving to my death. I am destined to collision. I will be crushed and destroyed by the one thing that could save me.

Earth is gone. What was Earth but false? I was happy. I was alive, attached, a piece of something. What was any of that but simply false? Earth was a playground. Earth was preschool. Earth was childhood. This is reality. Reality is dark, cold, unsatisfying. Reality is drawing me forward for no reason. Reality is hell, but at least it is real. At least it is here. At least it is true. Reality is content with itself. I am the one upset. I am the one hoping and looking. I am the one lost and confounded by my own thoughts. How unfortunate that I was born with a conscience. How futile it is to think. Even now I think of myself as something, as someone. I am millions of miles from home; I am of no consequence; I am the flotsam of the universe. And yet I think of myself as someone. The cruel, raw darkness enveloping me is more at peace than I.

Now I am getting cranky. This is what happens when there is nowhere to lie down and sleep. I can feel it coming, though. Relief. Time spent with no effort. Unimaginable bliss. My eyelids are harder to lift. One last thought blossoms before unconsciousness:

Existence is overrated.

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