They sat on the front porch looking out in the growing darkness. She leaned her head on her mother’s arm and sighed.
‘They’re so far away’, she said. ‘Stars’.
‘Mmmm yes. And no.’ Her mother smiled.
‘What do you mean?’
‘You and the stars are one’, her mother went on. She made a gesture like scooping in the heavens. ‘Once – just after the very beginning – there was only two things. Helium and Hydrogen. Nothing else. Both you and the stars are made of that same original stuff. Nothing has come since. And somewhere in between it started to think’.
She looked down on her daughter. ‘Once there were other stars – other galaxies. They grew old and disappeared – turning to dust. That dust has travelled far and wide – some ended up here. Some of it is you. And me. And the grass and the trees and the birds… And later – when we are no more – this dust will once again be stars… Recycling is a very old invention.’
The girl looked up. ‘I see’, she said. ‘Maybe that’s why I have always thought they were so far away and yet friendly, somehow. Like family. ’cause they are.’
‘Yes, you could put it that way’. Her mother looked up again. ‘And maybe that’s why people have always given them names and imagined their gods being up there. You know horoscopes? That’s a 5000 year old idea. Even the zodiac we still use is more than 4000 years old. So old the stars aren’t even in that place in the sky any more. But we still think they meddle in our lives – like old relatives.’
‘So that’s what forever is’, said the girl, suddenly realizing. ‘I mean – all that stuff about eternal life and things. We do. We always did. Only like in the bits. Like – every piece of me has been there from the first bang and will be till there is nothing anymore.’
‘You know, you’re right.’ Her mother looked a bit impressed, though she knew the child was bright. ‘Yes, that’s it. Eternal life. Right there. Every bit of you has been there since the very beginning and will be around till the very end. You carry eternity in your bones. You and the universe is one. Everything is one. But eternity is both matter and mind. At least I sense like that. But what I’ll really like to know, is when this One started to think. Or maybe thought came first? Maybe it’s like built in? Maybe it’s what everything is made of.’
She paused to find more words.
‘You know about entangled photons? You tickle one and the other one giggles be it a gazillion light years away? Like there is no time – no space? Like they’re one? Maybe it’s just that basic. Everything was once the same, so maybe it’s still connected. Before stuff there was just – well, we don’t know. The singularity. Which just means that there’s just this one whatever it is. Could be the one mind. Maybe everything – when you get right down to the very basic elements – is not about a state of matter but a state of mind’.
‘What about the trousers of time?’
‘That’s part of the story, really. Like – if mind came first. Maybe it wanted to know itself. So it made itself into – everything. To know you have to learn. To learn you must change. To change you need time. So there has to be at least one universe and there has to be time – and there has to be life. Something to make choices. But if you really want to know everything – I mean really everything, you must experience everything. Every possible outcome of every possible situation. And so – the trousers of time and a lot of universes. Everything happens somewhere. Every experience is necessary. Every person. Every raindrop. And in this universe you know this version of the story. The one mind knows them all. Is them all. Mind and matter is one. Or so it could seem. So it feels to me. And photons, possibly. To me the multiverse is big enough for everything to happen.’
‘Like worlds with turtles in them?’
Especially worlds with turtles in them’ her mother laughed. ‘But for whatever reason mankind seems to have been preoccupied with setting up boundaries. To their minds, each other – everything’. I don’t think there are any. Some people seem to feel safer, when they can see their prison walls. Personally, I feel safer when I can’t. But the question is, my question is – what came first – mind or matter? Or is it – as I feel – one and the same?’
‘I’ll find out’, said the girl. ‘Depend upon it.’
‘I’ll save up for your Nobel gown then.’ Her mother looked down and met her daughter’s eyes. And winked.
They both looked back up to their family in the sky.
‘I will’, the girl said. ‘I will find out.’
Foto: Thomas Nielsen ®