Alleviations from the cosmic plan.

By Maria Popova

Figuring Forward in an Uncertain Universe

We make things and seed them into the world, never ever totally understanding– frequently never ever understanding at all– whom they will reach and how they will blossom in other hearts, how their significance will unfold in contexts we never pictured. (W.S. Merwin recorded this poignantly in the final lines of his gorgeous poem “Berryman.”)

Today I offer something a little apart from the typical, or sidelong rather, amid these unusual times: A number of days earlier, I received a moving note from a woman who had actually read Figuring and found herself revisiting the last page– it was helping her, she said, live through the terror and confusion of these uncertain times. I figured I ‘d share that page– which follows 544 others, tracing centuries of human loves and losses, trials and triumphs, that gave us some of the masterpieces of our civilization– in case it assists anyone else.

On the other hand, someplace in the world, somebody is having sex and another a poem. In other places in the universe, a star manyfold the mass of our third-rate sun is living out its final moments in a wild spin before collapsing into a black hole, its exhale bending spacetime itself into a well of nothingness that can swallow every atom that ever touched us and every datum we ever produced, every poem and statue and symphony we’ve ever known– an entropic spectacle insentient to concerns of blame and grace, without why

In 4 billion years, our own star will follow its fate, collapsing into a white dwarf.

However till that day comes, absolutely nothing as soon as produced ever completely leaves us.

I will die.

You will pass away.

The atoms that gathered for a cosmic blink around the shadow of a self will go back to the seas that made us.

What will make it through of us are shoreless seeds and stardust.

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