The Ring Nebula

The next time you start feeling uppity, make a note to think about the Ring Nebula. It’s an exploding star that is millions of miles away. Since it is blowing up, it’s expanding, blowing outward like the lines in a cartoon bomb. Astronomers measure the rate of expansion and say that the Ring Nebula expands at a rate of 43,000 miles each hour. That’s a million miles a day. Can you imagine such a thing? Can you imagine that our universe is so indescribably huge and wonderful that something within it can expland by a million miles a day and not run out of room? But really, though I’m asking you to, can anyone use our meager language to describe anything so fantastic? It’s amazing and helps me keep my troubles in perspective. My little troubles.

Some of you know that I was in an accident last year. I was to compete in the South Carolina Masters Games as a bike racer. While on a training ride for the race, I was hit by a car and spent the next three months as a featured guest in three hospitals. I returned to work on the day that the company announced a reorganization. I knew who I would get rid of: the old guy who hasn’t been to work for four months. I came home and told my wife. At first, she was chipper about it. “At least you came back to work at an exciting time,” she said.

“I’m not too excited about finding a new job,” I replied.

She got serious. “Let me tell you something.” She had that look. “Six months ago I didn’t know if you would come home or not. I didn’t know if the girls would ever have Christmas with their Dad again. When I knew you were going to live, I didn’t know if you’ll ever walk again. Or work. Now, you are living, walking, and working and I have my family back. The girls have a Dad. There is nothing that your corporation can do to us that we haven’t already overcome. I’m not worried by any of it.”

That’s a fraction of the perspective of the ring nebula at work. It’s not to say that our lives and worlds are without meaning. Mine obviously is to my family and me. But, sometimes, often maybe, it’s good to remember that the universe rolls on in mysterious and enormous ways. With or without a person to notice.


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