What is a sense of place, anyway? What place? I tend to focus on the human scale, most of the time, as most of us do. But the universe is a place. Your body is also a place. To a mitochondrion, a cell is a world, and you are a vast, unimaginable universe. (Thank you, Madeleine L’Engle.) Less poetically, but still true, to the myriads of microorganisms that live in your gut and on your skin, you are an ecology…and if that ecology of tiny citizens gets out of balance, it can make you sick.
As above, so below, y’all.
I frequently do a meditation where I visualize an image where my heart is, and expand it outward to the size of my body, the room, the state, the continent, the planet, and finally the solar system…while imagining the slow, remote dance of stars and galaxies all around. I decided to see what would happen if I contracted it. First to the size of a red blood cell, then to an organelle, then to a molecule, an atom, a subatomic particle…
Let me tell you, that was weird. It’s harder to visualize, because we in general and I in particular don’t have as clear an idea of what some of those things look like. I do know that the subatomic level of reality is pretty strange (har), with things sort of popping in and out of existence chaotically. Expanding outward to a view of the cosmos to me feels peaceful and serene, but contracting to try to visualize quarks and electrons and bosons is intense but a little unnerving. Of course, I bet we seem pretty chaotic to a star: What is up with all of that “life,” “death,” appearing and disappearing, replication and mutation stuff? Freaky.
OK, I have to go wash some dishes now. Chop wood, carry water, feed the cat. The infinite universe shaped like a black-and-white domestic short hair is meowing at me.
If you like bogglement before breakfast as much as I clearly do, I highly recommend starting with Powers of Ten and then doing a little research to fill in what we have learned since the film was made. Bon voyage!
“The further in you go, the bigger it gets.” – from Little, Big by John Crowley