When I open my eyes, I find that the ridge has carried me up, up, up. Sky and I are very close, almost touching. I have to blink a few times to remember that I am human. There is only the tiniest sliver of moon tonight, so it seems as though every star in the cosmos is out, mingling with the freckles on my skin.
Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner -- what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
The affinity I experienced, lying atop that ridge, to the celestial bodies above me... what is it? Why is it a common human experience, to look into the vastness of the night sky, and feel simultaneously so small, yet so infused with energy?
Trace the human story back far enough, and we find within the story of the universe our stardust origins. Human beings, and our diverse ancestors - biological, celestial, elemental - emerged as part of a process of dynamic systems self-organizing towards increasing complexity. The human brain, a recent expression of that process, has an energy density flow (measured as the amount of free energy flowing through a system with respect to its mass over time) of 150,000 times that of a typical star. The inner, an intensified sky, indeed!
According to Thoreau, "every poet has trembled on the verge of science". The reverse, I am inclined to believe, is also true. It is becoming increasingly apparent that scientific inquiry requires an understanding of connectivity — connectivity which, as humans tuned for relationship, we tend to perceive as inherently beautiful and a little mysterious, the source of poetic thought.
What might we learn by merging intuitive with empirical, poetic with scientific, mind with sky? Who are we when we lie down to experience directly, "not through the slightest partition", the forces from which we emerged? How do we inhabit our place in this cosmic story, and our place in the body of the earth?