Last night was a beautiful summer night. It was a comfortable eighty degrees filled with the rustling of leaves and chirping of crickets or cicadas and a subtle breeze blowing. The rest of the scene was not so serene; it was filled with fifteen students executing a cookout. Burgers were being flipped, beans and mac n’ cheese were being prepared, and people were running back and forth between the kitchen and the grill in a form of organized chaos. It’s fun to see everyone pitch in to make a gourmet (in our eyes, anyway) dinner and a generally fun night; those party members who were not so gifted in the culinary field ensured that all who wanted a drink had one in hand. So, we took advantage of this free, fabulous summer night to relax.
Later on, after stomachs were filled and dishes had been cleaned, all that remained in the night was to drink and make merry. So that we did. And we ended up having a discussion that I remember having in third grade, and that will probably never have a resolution. We were talking about the theory that, based on various forms of ancient astrological calendars, the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. Now just to be clear, we were not panicking about this, but really just having an academic discussion (we’d like to call it academic, although I dare say that none of us are all that well informed on the issue). This then lead us to what exactly happens, scientifically, to all of the matter of the world, which then lead us to wonder about the universe. The universe is a mysterious thing, and the conversation we had last night did not bring us any closer to wrapping our heads around it. I remember in third grade, we had to make a poster about a question that we wondered about; mine was “What if we are all just a part of something’s dream, and when it wakes up we’ll just disappear?” Last night, we ended up trying to find the answer to this question, yet again. We tried to visualize just how far away the end of the Universe might be – someone suggested that, for all we know, there’s a brick wall (like the one surrounding William and Mary) at the edge of the universe. Then someone said, “But then what is on the other side of the wall?” “What if it’s just a sea of sludge, like an endless pool of the Universe’s vomit or something?” It was a conversation that to you, must sound like it is out of a movie from the 1960’s with all of us dressed in tie-dye and flowers and peace signs, with very darkly shaded glasses, the works. But I assure you this was not the case. We didn’t even mean to have such a mind-boggling conversation. But it happened. And it was actually fun. We ended up yelling and laughing about things that we cannot even imagine to understand, and we ended up so frustrated but so happy, that it was the perfect connection to the Earth, and beyond (the Universe itself!) on this relaxing summer night.