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Friday, October 15, 2010

Distance Learning

The stars could have all died and the universe ended, while the end of time is taking forever to catch up with us.
I wrote this in a short story about grief while I was at art school the first time around, it bled through into the first Polaroids from Other Lives, which I'm thinking of redrawing and expanding now I've got a better handle on how I tell stories with comics. It's a line that I held onto for years as a slightly downbeat way of keeping perspective on life, that as we look out into the sky, we look back in time, so for all we know, all the stars we see could have died and we are just getting the last trailing ghosts of their deaths shining past us from hundreds of thousands of years ago. Such a cataclysmic event would yet take centuries to reach us, by which time none of the people who now wonder if it might be true would live to know if they'd find pessimistic vindication.

Today, a generation on from that thought, I've just started an astronomy course by distance learning. It seems apt, since all astronomy is distance learning, but even the simple skimming through I've done in my excitement has fired all sorts of sparks of thought for me. Just as a certain pirate might have said, the power of a ship isn't in the wood or paint, but in its possibilities, so it is that the stars aren't simply the spheres that pepper our skies with a carpet of light that grows in generosity the less we mark the ground beneath it, but they're so deeply infused with metaphorical power.

I'm not talking about astrology inasmuch as I buy into the whole, "You're a Scorpio, that's why you like that sofa!" nonsense, more the sense of wonder that I feel at knowing that the elements that form my component parts include those thrown out from the death throes of a star bursting open as a supernova and birthing new combinations of atoms that were not present in the Big Bang's celestial garden.

We're not just made of stars, but the world we live in exists because of the destruction of things far greater than the human mind can properly grasp. The very stuff of our world is born from diamonds among the ashes of other suns, aeons before our own was formed.

It grants a beautiful degree of perspective.

And so it is that I've had a little over a week in the new flat, the Sky Citadel that my friends helped me to build here, on a hill facing the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, more than a moon on since I left the Hive of Scum and Villainy, not out of some Pyrrhic need to martyr myself or disappear, whistling the tune of The Littlest Hobo, but simply because there was a point where we could not call day night or night day any longer and hope to find any common ground in that flat together.

I've learned a lot about myself this Summer, and although obviously some of it's been an uncomfortable process of facing my own hand in the way things didn't work out at the flat or in my last job, the truth of it is simply that as I know myself more, it's harder to let myself be anything else, and harder to excuse myself when I see myself shapeshifting to situations, rather than changing the situations to suit me. Yes, I could easily say there's a voice keeps on calling me, or that the wind knows my name or whatever slick line I could brush it off with, but this last month has continued to be amazing for me.

I completed issue one of The Lengths, for one thing - that's a major accomplishment for me, and one I hope will continue to grow and grow as the series continues. It's with the printers now and I will have it in my hands in time for the MCM Expo and the intense run of events through November.

I'm working with an amazing artist and friend on her new installation project and I'm really proud and excited for her at how it's developing.

I'm back at college for the second year of the MA, and was welcomed back with a warmth and familiarity that just felt like something wonderful will happen during my time there this year, just like it did last year.

There's amazing people crossing paths with me at the moment. I've met a fascinating shaman, been talking to a Catholic priest by email, still been going to see a Life Coach who still manages not to make me feel stupid for going to see a Life Coach, and of course my friends continue to astound me with how much they inspire me.

So, yes, the stars might have all died and the universe ended, but there's light and warmth for thousands of generations yet and when our own sun's turn comes, I'm perfectly happy to know that from that blaze another combination of tiny particles will spin together in a new and powerful way and that nothing, absolutely nothing ever ends.

Ready for the old me, the new me, the combined and emboldened me?

Yeah, we always were, I'm ready for you all, too. When those fires come, just keep your eyes open, for in that light is where hope is the path from where you are to the most wonderful new possibilities.

It's all about learning from a distance, even if that distance is the liminal cusp between you and that which isn't you, and that as you learn more about the universe, the less that that border means.

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