Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Are You a Blue Giant?

I learned an interesting fact today - about stars. Blue giants, the most massive stars, have the shortest lifespans. One would expect the opposite to be true, because they have by far the most fuel to burn. Yet, the truth is so vastly different from one's expectations.

They burn many times hotter than Sol (our Sun), and must create much more pressure from their fusion engine to counteract the mighty forces of gravity than a less massive star. Apparently Blue Main Sequence (the proper name) stars are the "gas hogs" of the universe. After all, a star's fuel is hydrogen gas...

When contemplating huge, burning bags of gas, my thoughts naturally turned to myself and my contemporaries. Why do the brightest luminaries "burn out" so quickly? Is it simple physics? Do they just consume their resources too quickly to survive?

Perhaps the lesson for us all, is that it's better to let your light shine at a comfortable, sustainable rate, and let it shine ten to a hundred times longer. Let your personal power illuminate lives, drive worlds, and sustain life. The blue-white hot beams of the Blue Giant would roast us all, leaving nothing alive to appreciate its beauty and its power. Better normal and with friends than exceptionally powerful and alone in the universe...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Scenic Overlooks

If my life is a highway, I've been spending far too much time in the scenic overlooks and not enough visiting with friends. Before the advent of the limited access Interstate highways, scenic overlooks were a rarity. Oh, there were plenty of roadside stops with grand vistas and interesting sights, but the concept of the "easy-off" and "easy-on," don't even bother to get out of your car scenic overlook came with the superhighways.

Long years ago, before the death of my mother in 1990, I traveled with my parents on a couple of roadtrips -- on motorcycles. It is possible to travel on two wheels on the Interstate, but motorcycles are just made for the curvy, narrow, and vastly more complex network of highways and by-ways that don't sprout a concrete cloverleaf and merging traffic ramps every ten miles or so. On the seat of a cycle, you are part of the journey, not just a passenger in a metal and plastic box.

To avoid the ever-nascent saddle-sores from riding over-long without a break, we stopped regularly and often. It made the journey a bit longer, but it made the journey part of the experience, profoundly to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Besides, riding a motorcycle on any road is risky, even dangerous, and requires constant vigilance and the most defensive type of driving. Breaks just made good sense and safer travel.

I believe that living my life requires the same mind set. I love being able to speed in and out of the traffic in the stream of consciousness that makes up my life. As long as I can, I want my mind to soar along on two wheels when convenient and on the wings of thought when possible. I'm not a plodder, and I don't drive a mental Buick. I like to believe that my mind is perched atop my Candy-Apple Metallic Red 650 Honda Silver Wing, with my hand on the throttle and my feet on the riding pegs. I'm braced for acceleration and ready for the roar of the wind in my face and the rumble of the V-twin underneath.

Alas, it's a dream only. I was forced by lack of cycle parking at work, the very short summers of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and my soul-mate's unwillingness to ride pillion on my saddle, to sell my ride or journey alone when lack of snow permitted it. Still, the dreams are great and the memories are bright and lively, and especially poignant because my parents live on in those dreams. How could I ever forget following the dim glow of the taillight on my Dad's Gold Wing as we fought our way across the mighty Mackinac Bridge in a force-5 gale? Or forget the look on my daughter's face (she was riding behind me) as she discovered not a single dry spot on any of us after the crossing?

If my life ultimately becomes a panorama of such vivid vignettes, a summer block-buster collection of tangible and touching mental high-definition video treasures, I will consider myself a lucky man.

My recent visits to the scenic overlooks near the path of my life's journey notwithstanding, I have plans for more mental pilgrimages and many more long, lovely, and lively stops at all the best roadside rest and re-creation sites along my journey. You can bet I will do my best to avoid saddle-sores!