The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries. – Carl Sagan
All physical reality is composed of stardust. Over 70% of the Earth, our brains and hearts are formed from water. We are in essence the universe and it is us. The desire to seek answers to the great mysteries of our existence in inherent in our ever questing minds. But in troubled times the grand and glorious take a back seat to the base struggles of survival – physically, spiritually, financially,… It is however during these monumental trials that the human spirit truly shines brightest. It helps however to have some past examples to learn from.
Nearly six hundred years ago in the Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote, “You must read, you must persevere, you must sit up nights, you must inquire, and exert the utmost power of your mind. If one way does not lead to the desired meaning, take another; if obstacles arise, then still another; until, if your strength holds out, you will find that clear which at first looked dark.” The book tells the story of a group of ten people sheltering in a villa during the Black Death. This novel is considered to be one of the most culturally important books of Western Civilization. It can help readers make sense of the psychological effects of isolation.
Our world has been altered forever and we now stand on the newly formed ground and contemplate a mysterious stirring in our souls for understanding in this time of pandemonium. Edvard Munch’s The Scream is a world famous masterpiece. One of the first things Munch did after surviving the so-called Spanish Flu in 1919, was paint his self portrait. Much as people today are documenting their lives online. (Spanish Flu and the Depiction of Disease). “Shakespeare’s life was marked by plague” (BBC Radio – Plague and the Playhouse). In The Plague (free pdf) the great existentialist Albert Camus writes of the isolation, fear, and the triumph of the human spirit. The Renaissance was born, in part, because of the Back Death.
Together, we are approaching the great mystery of the birth of the new world. We don’t know with certainty what changes await, but we can begin now to alter how we understand our place in this shattered timeline. The Japanese have an artistic tradition known as Kintsugi – “golden joinery”. Kintsugi takes broken pieces of pottery and mends them with gold. The resulting artwork are even more magnificent than before the object was broken. Our unbroken spirits are the gold that will restore our world. In the process we could create a new Renaissance based on fairness and respect. Peace.