The Cosmos

by Jonathan Ramirez

             After exiting the car, I got bitten by a mosquito. “Great!” I exclaimed, “Just what I should expect from Nature, a mosquito bite.” I have never been on a hike, so I have no idea what to expect. “Will the hike wear me out before I get to the top? What would happen to me if I could not find my way back?” I looked up at Frary Peak and began to distress.
Nature just isn’t my thing.
I began to climb with my best friend. “Hundreds of people have done this, John,” she would   say to silence me. Each step I took as I ascended, I kept receiving involuntary foot massages from the sharp rocks on the path and hearing noises unfamiliar to me.
I exclaimed, “See!? This is why I don’t hike!” I thought it was dark, but the moon had completed its waxing cycle and was illuminating some of the trail. I neglected that, though.
There was not much to see. Sure, the stars were out, but what of them?
We were walking beside a roaring river and I was growing fond of its smell and the higher we climbed, the colder the temperature became. It was a comfortable kind of cold, though and the view of the sky was breathtaking. Stars were becoming more and more visible.
We were climbing for about an hour, so I asked Bethany how much longer until we reached the top, but she didn’t answer me. I could tell she was weary of my complaining. I am not the outdoors type of person so I was not enjoying myself. I was enjoying the sky, though. I thought back to a former Astronomy class and began to remember about the formation of stars and planetary systems, but my earthly tumultuous worries grew more disturbed. “I am about to graduate high school. What do I do then?” We were a mere five feet from the overlook, and I shouted, “This hike better be worth the trouble of leaving home. Will I be starting tomorr—“
We reached the top; I looked up and was staring into infinity - the Universe. I was looking at the same sky I would always look up at, but this time I was closer than ever before and there was no light pollution to obscure the view. The reality of the circumstances suddenly occurred to me - none of it mattered. The monumental meaning I ascribed to my problems dissipated in the face of space. I could see the Great Salt Lake, I witnessed each person, in cars, in public transportation, walking, living their life, the oxygen in the wind and my blood cells converged, I could not view enough.
I looked at the stars and I thought of how I was looking back in time. The light of these phenomenal celestial objects, which numbered in the millions, were travelling countless, unfathomable distances to die on my eyeballs. Perseus was dancing, Hercules was running, Orion was fleeing, Taurus was charging, and Ursa Major stalked its prey. I was racing through the unknown at 67,000 miles per hour. I was no longer alive; I was exploding into every moment, absorbing all I could while I could.
I was no longer the center of the Universe, the world did not revolve around me, my problems were non-existent, my actions were minuscule, but my best friend’s value, the important “stuff,” was exploding in my face. I thought of my family, classmates, enemies, best friends, acquaintances, strangers, I remembered my insults and my compliments, and I cogitated my futile worries. I thought about every single person, the inhabitants of this phenomenal, intricate world, and decided I am bound to make their suffering wane. I was connected to everything, simply by being alive.
The voice of Carl Sagan came to mind, it almost sounded like he was beside me: “In that pale blue dot, everybody you know, everybody you love, everybody you ever heard of lived out their lives.” No longer did I see the non-existing future, but the thriving moment, pulsating into my conscience. There was no mosquito bite and there were no worries. I was staring into the face of oblivion. I saw a reflection of me, of others, and everything else. The atoms within me stared back at their origin, the stars; I reached out to try and catch one. “What do you think was your score on the test?” a voice asked me. “I don’t know . . . but—“I could not finish speaking. I stood, filled with rapture unlike any other.

I sacrificed a few tears and felt insignificant, but overwhelmingly meaningful. . . I felt human.