you took a trip in your mind, broke free from all the chains that bound you for a lifetime, but somewhere in the middle the reality of chaos took you by surprise. everything and nothing was real. life became something you grasped as if it was ending. When you finally called me, i was the last to know. i was here with yarn and hook, cats piled on my legs like liquid warmth. part of me felt a little broken, my own reality coming to whisper in my ear. for over an hour, you spoke of patterns and vessels made for the universe, how we are projections of the cosmos living out some edict we don’t understand and maybe never will. i let my mind drift into this longer world, let my own fear and inhibitions sink into the couch. i had been building an atlas of the universe we shared without giving you a chance to lay down the asphalt of new byways, without thinking you’d want to forge new trails with me. the weight of it pinned me to the earth and we said good night. i thought of all my own broken maps, this invisible world painted across my living room, and wondered where our roads would finally bring us together.
I have to tell you I am thrilled to not have to drive a cumulative nine hours back and forth to work, but it has hampered my consumption of audio books. I was listening to about one a week and I’m lucky if I can fit in two a month now. Sheltering in place has taken an effect on it too.
We’ve been inundated by shitty weather in upstate New York, which has made hiking and individual outdoor activity harder to do. It slows the mind down. After an entire day of rain, it finally stopped, and I took this as an opportunity to take a long walk and listen to a book. I needed revitalizing.
Recently, my kid and I have been watching episodes of Universe which has been interesting. I have always loved astronomy and the principles of physics, but was never smart enough to crush the math. As I scrolled through the available audio books through my library, there it was. The answer to my first world problems.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
I will not tell you with any sliver of intelligence about the key principles of astrophysics and I will not try. This is more a review that puts the seed in your head that you should listen to this book. You could read it, but then you won’t get to hear Neil deGrasse Tyson say “Holy Shit” while talking about astrophysics. I was walking by the swollen river when this happened and literally was laughing so hard. He’s just a guy, but a smart one. It took me off guard.
I think what I loved about his book was that he made the ideas of astrophysics easy to understand. He spoke about them with intelligence but referenced them to images and ideas that we might grasp as lay people. He talked about how often people feel depressed when learning about astrophysics because it makes them feel insignificant, but he states that he still feels excited and full of wonder. Space and the universe makes him feel this way because human beings discovered it all. It feels like an infinite possibility instead of being irrelevant.
You have four hours of time, less than four hours actually, to listen to this book. You can feel smart and maybe childlike about the wonders of space and how regular people learned to do amazing things.