During daylight, I see the world’s chaotic brilliance and am immersed in a cacophony of chirping birds, rushing cars, and rustling trees. I find beauty in chaos’ constancy because disorder is the natural state of the world around me.
However, nighttime brings a different feeling. Life continues at night, but everything feels calmer and quieter on the surface. I often run at night. As I run out my door, I enter a new world where the darkness of the sky blends into the ground. I feel my feet hit the pavement while floating in dark air. Especially on foggy nights, I feel like I am experiencing the setting of a story but without characters. Time feels slower as there is no surrounding rush. I think a lot during this ritual. Mostly the thoughts in my head are unremarkable, simply random observations or questions.
As I run up a hill by an open field, I notice the fireflies sparkling in the tree line. As I gaze up, I realize how hard it is to define the difference between the trees and space as the fireflies mimic the stars above. I suddenly start thinking about energy. How the thousands of suns in the sky glow like fireflies because both emit light. The fireflies utilize bioluminescence and the stars nuclear fusion.
Perspective is a weird thing. If I stood here long enough, I could watch the night turn into day, creating a new scene in the same exact spot, but I also think about the sky right now as the fireflies look the same size as those giant stars light years away. Those stars are behemoths in their own planetary systems, but in my reality, the fireflies though physically smaller have a big presence because of their proximity. To see the minute experiences of my daily life connected with the large vastness of the universe comforts me. I often hear people talk about their fears when they look up at the sky and realize we are only a speck of dust in the universe, but I notice that despite being so small, we are literally bigger than the stars above from my eyes.
Returning my focus from the sky to the ground as I navigate the black pavement at my feet, I hear the crunch and crackle of every step as little chunks of asphalt scrape against each other under the pressure of my feet. Like those fireflies these little rocks and other materials I interact with everyday are both small and huge depending on perspective. They are all supposedly made of thousands of wave-particles. Each material is as vast as the universe and contain whole new unexplored worlds.
I remember sitting in chemistry class, watching the board as my teacher introduced the fundamental theories that begin to define atomic structure and bonding. I think about electrons whirling around in a cloud surrounding a clump of protons and neutrons. Those electrons are the same ones in the fireflies and the sun. That same chaotic energy whirls around everything. I feel my legs as they shuffle back in forth through the nighttime air. They become cold as they disrupt the loose web of tiny gaseous wave-particles which float in the air, and my body heat disperses. I truly realize that everything (air, rocks, atoms) at its most fundamental unit is made of the same matter just organized differently and in different numbers.
Finally arriving at the beach where I end most of my runs I snap back to reality from the daze of my inner thoughts. So, what does this all mean? It is not always apparent, but I think science provides an outlet for me appreciate what I love no matter its size. I love my family; I love the earth; I love all the itty-bitty atoms that clump together to make everything that I love.