Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tale as old as time.

Aeons ago, when the phrase “once upon a time” hadn’t yet been penned by a Grimm brother, when awareness didn’t exist, when an apple didn’t fall on someone who in retrospect might have well hoped that all he’d had that day was thoughtless slumber, when none was capable of articulating a thought, let alone ask a question, a ray of sunlight fell on a primordial molecule that by chance hadn’t been swept back by the ocean and changed the course of future forever.

It took ages and ages and ages – an unfathomable number, and dozens of serendipitous incidents, a drop of rainwater there, a chance evolution of a molecule of oxygen and the immediate salvage of it, a mistake in the copying mechanism of a nascent polymer that had absolutely no knowledge of its importance and how it will eventually rock some minute corner of the immense universe, an unintended formation of a new cell, and the unintended propagation of the same cell, for the future to finally become present, one where questions are asked and answers sought fervently.

Somewhere in a cave, there was a man who had had his fill, and for some strange reason was able to abandon fear for a minute. For a beautiful instant, he wasn’t worried about his survival; he took that for granted. He looked up at the sky through a minute peephole that the trees above him had left, and looked up in awe. In the magically dancing universe, where everything is all about the present, where laws are obeyed without demur, for now, regardless of what law was obeyed before and of what law was going to be obeyed later, a man wondered for perhaps the first time about what was, what is and what will be, and some would say imagination came into being.

Yet one would be forced to wonder if imagination didn’t exist when one insect mimicked the appearance of another poisonous looking insect to ward off prey. Did imagination not exist when a virus found that it could be very successful living with the bare necessities and making use of the opulence of other beings. Did imagination not exist when the energy of sunlight was carefully trapped and this energy harvested into the creation of food, that would one day be broken down again to release energy.
Did the man who looked at the sky, at the twinkling stars, barely realizing that every part of the vast sky was a snapshot of a different time, wonder why the universe seemed so wrought with purpose? Why some invisible force, some intangible hand seemed to be moving the universe into a predetermined destiny, perhaps back into the past, where it all began ?

Somewhere in a chaotic ball of fire, laws were made never to be broken again, never to be remade again. From there on, everything obeyed these laws. Yet, it wasn’t a constricted environment. There was the advantage of time, of serendipity, of a lackadaisical virtue bestowed by the lack of awareness where consequences of actions never had to be considered, and finally a being came into existence that was indeed aware.

The same being now asks if there is an ultimate purpose. A science fiction writer called the answer “forty two”. Scientists call the same “the unified theory of everything”. Someone else says “simply”. What a waste of time if everything that has happened, that is happening, and that will happen is happening simply. Will we ever be able to give a better answer, one that is to our conscious mind, worth the time that it has taken the universe to get to where it is? Only time will tell.