Consciousness flickers round the edges of dreaming and I become vaguely aware of the delicious luxury of warmth and comfort and a body relaxed and sleepy. It is dark and silent, the dawn will be long in coming, and dreams hover on the edges of mind. The eastern horizon waits for sunrise… and the thought flits through my sleepy mind, that actually, there will be no ‘sunrise’. The sun does not rise. Ever.
Okay, that woke me up.
It is neither as radical not as weird a thought as many that occupy my mind… it is simply true. The sun does not rise. It hangs in space and we, our planet, are the ones that move. Yet in language, thought and imagery we paint a moving sun that arcs across the heavens, marking the dance of time through our days.
I wonder for just how many millennia we have accepted that idea unquestioning? For a long time we accepted a geocentric model that placed the earth at the centre of a revolving universe. Before that there was a flat earth… and earlier still was the poetry and wonder of myth. Heliocentricity didn’t emerge as a fully formulated idea till Copernicus in the 16th century… and it probably didn’t make its way into the popular mind for a long time after that. Even now, knowing that the truth is other than the evidence presented by our eyes, we still watch the sun ‘rise and set’ aware only of ‘its’ movement, seldom ours. Although we all know the planetary dance these days, few really need to understand it in any depth or detail. We don’t, on a day to day basis, even care whether the sun moves overhead or we circle it.
Perhaps it is more comfortable that way.
It is a similar story with time… physicists, mathematicians and philosophers all have their own ideas that we, the general public, are unlikely to ever question enough to understand. We look at a clock and that is enough. We do not have to understand Newton, Einstein or Hawking in order to know the moment we have to leave for work or make dinner. Between the apparent motion of the sun and the hands of our clocks we can function within the frame of days.
As the kettle boils, Ani pretends she is a cat, leaning against my legs and rubbing, with one soulful eye on the milk carton. I wonder if she is any more aware of her place in the universe than we are. In some ways there seems little difference. She is aware of what she needs to know… and although insatiably curious and willing to learn, the patterns of behaviour … or misbehaviour… go deep. She knows she will be fed without recourse to a clock, knows she has warmth and cuddles and tennis balls… why should she worry about any more than that? Yet she does and is always on alert. Though that may just be being nosey.
We are not all that much different in many ways and spend our days focussed on the needs and desires that move us through the hours from dawn to dawn. ‘Had we but world enough and time’ what else could we see? Sometimes something will catch our attention and we find ourselves considering new things, or new ways of looking at old ones. Sometimes we make that conscious decision to step outside of the tramlines of need and begin to question a world we seem to be seeing for the first time with a new awareness. It doesn’t take much to bring us to these realisations of possibility if we are open to them… it might be no more than seeing an object with fresh eyes or questioning a long-held belief. Or realising that the sun never rises… it is always there in the heavens.