OtterChristmas 1.2-DarkMatters

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How little we perceive. Humans have so far managed to observe not quite five percent of the matter the universe contains. Curious terms like Dark Energy and Dark Matter serve as placeholders for these significant unknowns. Whatever constitutes them are not simply unknown, but presently unknowable. I figure that this knowledge of what we cannot yet perceive might serve as insurance against self-importance. Mr. Know-It-All doesn't know all THAT much, cosmically speaking, and should shop for hats in the more modest sizes.

On this, the darkest night of this year (if not, as a sucker bait fake news report I fell for yesterday proclaimed, the darkest night in five hundred years) The GrandOtter, The Muse, and I went searching for light. Out into a night punctuated with occasional Christmas lights, we drove into familiar darkness, down the grand Lookout Mountain road, a two thousand foot decline in about six miles, which overlooks much of the spreading metro area to the East. We stopped at a turnout so The Otter could grab a few fuzzy photos of the view, confused at why we could not see Denver's miniature skyline lit up like a Christmas display. Highways streaked toward the horizon. Mountains ghostly in their snow cover watched us trying to perceive.

Our destination, downtown Golden, promised an impressive light display. The main street, Washington, glowed with a warm humility in the chilling evening as we found a parking place adjacent to Clear Creek, where bridges and trees were decked with softly-glowing LEDs. One tree, an impressive old Cottonwood, featured lights that inexplicably changed color, blue to green then back to blue, as we watched. It offered no discernible cue as to when this shift would occur, and it would happen so subtly that our experience was one of feeling fooled every time color changed. The Otter took video, but found it impossible to hold her camera steady enough to capture more than fuzz, so there would be no definitive validation of our visual experience.

The Muse had not dressed warmly enough, and hunched as she strolled creekside. I loaned her my gloves, and we huddled together in a two-armed, four-legged configuration, her sharing one of my vest's down-padded pockets with me. The Otter felt no cold, focused as she was on capturing her visual experience for later review and sharing. Editing while she walked, she stopped more than she moved, Muse shivering appreciatively just ahead.

Perhaps a third of the trees wired with lights were dark. I suspect recent extreme weather took its toll on the carefully arrayed configuration, but even these unlit lights were observable as we passed. The dark frozen creek burbled through the darkness, and glowed amid the shadows cast by what lights still glowed, providing the sense that we could see everything clearly, though we certainly sensed much more than we saw. The display seemed to fill us with light, distracting us from fussing over all we could not perceive.

The system comprised of The Muse, The Otter, and I exists on at least two logical levels. We most certainly seem to be present when we are together, but quite a bit of the foreground of that presence focuses not upon that obvious presence, but in anticipating 'The Future.' Our presence seems mere prologue to a fundamentally unknowable future, though our levels of anticipation have become increasingly elevated over time. When The Otter was eight, her future seemed essentially unlimited and unknowable; anything was possible. Now, it seems that many possibilities have dissolved, narrowing options; clarifying choice, or seeming to.

We seek light, preferring anything to the darkness, the dark matter surrounding us. We fortunately cannot perceive what we just cannot perceive. Our darknesses remain more notional than actual experiences. We probably project more than we ever perceive.

I caught myself feeling thankful for all I could not perceive, and for how easily I find satisfaction. Would I feel sated with 4.999% of my supper or a scant five percent of a song? Yet I felt full and then some poking through that shadowy scene with two of my favorite people, each of whom I suppose I know about 5% well. The balance, on this darkest night of the year, the dark matter, must not matter much. We were each carrying our share of trepidation about the future with us, while fully delighting in what little light we could perceive. Que sera sera.

Blessed, indeed.

©2016 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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