I was taking a walk in the neighborhood this afternoon, and suddenly noticed the strip of grass next to my feet, glowing a nearly luminous green, almost fluorescent in the bright, late day sun. At the same moment, the thought occurred to me: "It's just so weird to be alive, and conscious, and walking like this on the earth." The sheer unexpected strangeness of existence washed over me. Then I had to dodge a Hyundai sharing that existence.
You shouldn't for a second think that, because I'm a philosopher, I have thoughts like this all the time. I don't. Most of the day I spend awash in the vital trivia of everyday life, like most people - catching up on the news, mulling over whatever is the most recent sports or entertainment scandal that's on everyone's minds, letting the dogs out and back in, feeding the cats, or throwing them a ball, which, like dogs, they love, as long as its made of crumpled up paper. I read. I write. I exercise. I ponder what would be good for lunch, then later shift my concerns to dinner.
One morning, my wife and I had both woken up, but neither of us knew the other was conscious until, maybe, I moved, and she said "Are you awake?"
"Yeah, for a while now."
"Me, too. I was just lying here thinking about the problem of evil."
"Oh," I said. "I was thinking about what would happen if you microwaved dog food. I mean, would they like it?"
I'm not on the cosmic wavelength all the time. But occasionally, the sheer wonder of the world taps me on the shoulder. And then I marvel for a few minutes. Before I go back to doing whatever it was that I was doing before.
And yet, today, the wonder lingered. And another wonder formed. I said to myself, "I wonder if we'd all treat each other better if we did more to keep in mind the amazing, incredible, wonderful strangeness of being here in this world, on a tiny planet, hurtling through space together. Could metaphysics assist our sometimes limping manners and morals?
Socrates said, in his time, that the least important things, we think about and talk about the most, and the most important things, we think about and talk about the least. We should turn that around.
Ponder the awesome, bizarre, beautiful gift of life for a bit today. Or, the next time the universe taps you on the shoulder, give it a few minutes to reawaken your soul.
And, if you have a second, tell me about your latest cosmic experience.