Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: beauty

Hey Ruth, I figured out Time Dilation

This physics class has been a blast. But it’s given me a bit of a headache. It’s not because I don’t understand what’s going on. It’s just that it’s hard to put into words the things that I’m learning.

It looked something like this.

Take Time Dilation, for example. Now, I’ve been into sci-fi for as long as I can remember. I’ve known for a while that the universe has this strange quirk that screws with time. Imagine I were to put you on a spaceship and blast you off toward some nearby star at a crazy, close-to-light speed. If you slingshot around that star and come back here, you’d find that I had aged a lot more than you had. Time went slower for you, the traveler, than it did for me.

Screwy, eh?

Like I said, I’ve known that for a while. A lot of science fiction books make use of that quirk. But I’ve never really gotten it. There’s a huge difference between knowing something and getting something. Then today my physics TA drew a weird little graph and it suddenly made the whole thing click for me. I finally got it. It was great, because getting a thing kinda makes it beautiful, doesn’t it?

I envy the sky you fall asleep under. The bright stars of Pakistan always gave me a delicious sense of the immensity of the universe and the smallness of everything going on down here. See those vast contrasts in one view helps put everything into a proper perspective, doesn’t it?

Awe is the salve that will heal our eyes
– Rumi

Have an awe-filled ninth day, Ruth. I’ll say Hey again tomorrow.

Discovering the Universe

I discovered the universe the other day. Ever been there?

Strange place, that. Full of tricks and lights. Flashing about with them teeth. With them claws.

“With them eyes?”

No, not with them eyes. I got the eyes. And the ears and the lips and the hands for touching and the tongue for tasting. That’s why I discovered the universe, not the other way around.

“What was it like?”

Son, it was like this.

I opened my eyes, and the universe fed me with photons. Some were salty. Some were sweet. Some were loud and shaking. Some were tiny and secretive.

I opened my ears, and the universe showed me her vibrations. Her churning and her pulsating. Her rhythmic, sexual dances that pulled and pushed on the drums within my head.

I opened my mouth and the universe cradled me like a child at the breast. The fruits of the earth, made from the same stuff as I. The fruits of the earth, slowly becoming I.

I opened my hands and caressed the universe, digging deep in the brown earth. Massaging the white clouds. Pushing at the crystal-clear waters.

I opened my nose and I drank the scents that flew off of the universe’s body. The harshness of fire smoke. The gentleness of lavender and sandal.

And then I opened my soul. And she spoke to me.

“What did she say to you?”

Are you awake?

“And what did you say back to her?”

I think I am.

DoubleFeel

     It’s that time of year again.
     The heat seems to come from below, bringing sopping air with it. The smells are pungent and human. Sweat. Dirt. Exhaust. Rooms with air conditioning seem sterile while rooms without seem dirty. It all awakens in me a desire I thought was fading.
     Pakistan.
     The country has not treated me and mine well, of course. But I’m longing for it again. Why? I can’t figure it out.
     I would lose family and friends again. I would miss out on all my geeky conversations. I would lose my financial stability. I would suffer ridiculous heat. I would trade my own powerful and comfortable culture for a foreign one.
     But I’m yearning, still.
     I could do it, of course. I could start packing and be gone when my lease runs out. There is nothing stopping me. I could get a job teaching English or raise money for some humanitarian project. And then I could live there again.
     I could soak in the poetic Urdu. I could walk through fields of cotton and mangoes. I could drink chai with shopkeepers.
     But do I want to?
     So very much.
     And not at all.
     At the same time.
     It’s not Doublethink. It’s Doublefeel.
     And while I’m doublefeeling about being there, I’m also doublefeeling about being here.

What do you Doublefeel about?

Thoughts on the Guy Next to Me Who Looks Just Like Me

     To the guy sitting next to me on the bus with my face.
     Wow. Look at you. You look exactly like me. And not in that superficial way in which anyone with an unkempt beard and strange, long hair looks. Your face looks like mine. Your eyes look like mine. Dude, you look like me.
     Wow, we dress the same, too. Both of us wear rotting shoes and over-worn pants. I bet you own as few clothes as I do. And that’s a nice satchel you have. Did you get it at Goodwill like I got mine?
     And I can tell that you see it, too. You keep looking at me, pretending not to. And I keep looking at you, pretending not to. And I think we’re both clever enough to know what we’re doing.
     Alas, neither of us seem strong enough to walk up to the other and say, “Hey, nice beard,” or “Dude, nice satchel.” That’s all it would have taken, I bet. And then we’d start talking to each other. And it’d be cool. Because we look the same. And it’d also be cool because, well, what’s better than talking to strangers?
     But neither of us were brave enough. So we sat there. I played with Twitter on my phone. You listened to music, but only with one earbud, leaving room for me to start a conversation.
     What would it have been like if I had done it? If I had turned and said, “Hey there”?
     The worst-case would have been an annoyed look. But I don’t think you would have done that. You look friendly. And so do I, for that matter. Why didn’t we risk it?

Frost on my Window

Frost on my window
obscuring.
Fractals reaching,
yearning,
stretching without moving.

I cannot see beyond the
beautiful
holy
ice.

But that’s OK.
Sometimes beauty is better than clarity.
And to love is better than to understand.

Thank you for the frost on my window.
For the clouds covering my eyes.

The Silent Screams

Loud.

Crash.

Scrabbling for attention.

We shout and dance and sing, desperate for the eyes of the people around us. We spin and toil, joyless for a reward always in our dreams but never in our hands. We make and break. We buy and break. We break and throw away and nothing is left. More. More. More. And in our noise we forget.

And the mountain stands silent, silently screaming louder than us all, if only we had the ears to hear her. Naked she stands, behind her veil of cloud and frost. She tries to be shy and quiet, though she knows not how. And in her timid stance she declares the glory of the mover and shaker who pulled her from the ground and stood her on her feet. What does she do that demands our gaze? What work does she accomplish that deserves our wonder? Only that she is.

Thank you for the music that you need not ears to hear. Thank you for the sights that do not require eyes. Thank you for beauty. Thank you for glory. Thank you for betrothing me to the carver of the mountains and the painter of song.