“Think, man’ I replied lost in the great arc of that smoke that was the Milky Way. ‘All those zillions of stars! Zillions and zillions of worlds! And some of them are galaxies! Zillions of galaxies, man. And each galaxy has more stars than there are grains of sand on every beach in all the world. And there’s more galaxies that grains of sand. Fuck, man.”
We both got a little preoccupied with running sand through our fingers. A shooting star flashed overhead and we watched it. It seemed to have significance.
“Just think, man. All those worlds are pinpricks of light,’ Jack remarked, shaking his head up at that universe swirling above us. ‘Reduced to that, man. Just pinpricks.”
“An’ we’re a tiny pinprick.”
“Well you’re a tiny prick, man,” He chuckled. “A real tiny prick.”
“I guess.” I laughed. “We’re all just tiny, tiny pricks.”
“Right now there’s probably millions of people just like us lying back on those pinpricks looking up at our little prick.”
We were so stoned and it seemed the funniest thing in the world and it creased us up so we fell about snorting.
Then we fell on our backs and we looked up at the zillions of pricks, some twinkling, some bright and glaring. We studied them. In those lights were people just like us. Maybe aliens so different to us that we couldn’t even imagine what they looked like. Looking back at the pinprick that was us with organs that saw differently – and we both wondered.
“What do you think the sky looks like to them?” I mused.
“Different.” Jack reflected.
“Yeah, different — but just as fucking amazing!” I announced.
We tried to imagine that. It looked fucking amazing.
“We’re looking at infinity, man.” Jack remarked becoming all serious.
The sky was so clear and swirly that you felt you could fall into it.
“You know, if only a tiny, tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of those galaxies have planets, and only a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of them have life. That’s one fuck of a lot of life!” I said reflectively.
“In an infinite system there’s infinite possibility and anything that is possible exists.” Jack stated.
“And that means that we are out there, or at least, beings just like us, identical to us are lying on a beach on a planet just like this having this exact conversation an infinite number of times in all directions from here.” Jack mused philosophically, sounding extremely serious.
“Yeah,” I laughed. “And if you travel forwards and backwards in time there are beings like us having this conversation on this very spot in space an infinite number of times.”
Another shooting star scorched across the sky followed quickly by a third. We lay there staring up and allowing our imaginations to try to understand infinity. It was fantastic – too fantastic to speak about.
Then Jack sat up. He unscrewed the lid of the huge penny jar, stood up and reached in and grabbed a handful of coins and tossed them in the air. They spun and glinted in the bright starlight and fell down in a big arc. They seemed to spin and fall in slow motion but that was most probably the effect of the speed.
We got up and walked down to the sea’s edge. The waves were gently lapping and glistening in the light. It was so bright – so clear. Like it was daylight but with a strangely stark blue luminosity, like all the reds had been drained away and everything was full of contrast, like when you turned the contrast button all the way up on the telly.
Jack tossed another handful into the air and they arced and splattered into the sea, creating mini silver explosion each of which set up a series of ripples.
We took turns at flinging them up and watching them fall and splatter like sparkling rain into the gentle surface of the undulating sea. They were like stars falling from the sky. It all seemed to come together with some mystical significance – something well beyond the scope of words to explain.
When the coins were all gone we threw the empty jar into the sea and watched it slowly bob and sink. We stood and watched the surface undulate and glisten. Then we retrieved the big jar of pills, secured the lid and strolled off into the night.
“Too late to go home,” Jack said. The pills were wearing off now and we both needed to crash. The night was catching up with us.
We made our way up to the top of the beach among the dunes and found a patch of evening primrose. We both had the same idea and started grabbing them, uprooting them, breaking them off and throwing them into a pile. Then we crawled inside and went to sleep.
The makeshift bed was not too comfortable and did not do too much to keep the cold off either. The crushed leaves made the air damp and we dozed fitfully for a few hours but it was enough. Dawn found us sitting on the heap of dead plants watching the sun come up over the dunes and sending orange tracts across the purple sea towards us. It was pretty spectacular.
“Wow, man, that’s something special.” Jack said studying the beauty of those early morning heavens. The sky seemed to be putting on a display just for our benefit.
“I wonder how many other eyes have sat here and watched that sight?” I wondered.
“First ones, man.” He replied. “That sunrise has never existed before. Different each time. Unique. We’re the first and only. That sunrise might look similar to some other, man, but ………… well. That’s our sunrise, man. They’ll never be another like it in all eternity.”
We stared at our special magic sunset as if it was specially put on for us.
“I get the feeling that other eyes have sat here and watched similar sunrises before from this very spot,’ I insisted. ‘This sort of connects us back to all those people thousands of years before. Before civilisation began. I bet they stood here and watched it.”
It was like some mystical connection. It was a new day beginning but something much more as well. It stirred all sorts of feelings and filled you with an inner mood of warmth and connection. I felt as if I was looking out through other eyes, through all eyes.
We sat there watching for what seemed like hours as the sun slowly rose out of the water into the air.
There was no need for either of us to speak.
We knew what it was but it was as if we were transported back to the days when that knowledge was not available; when that distant ball of our star rising up to start a new day must have seemed a miracle beyond all understanding. No wonder that it was seen as a god. As if all the wonders of life and the world, the seasons, the moon and stars were unfathomable things of beauty and fear to be wondered at.
The sunrise was a vehicle, a focus for our thoughts. It opened up your mind like natural acid.
“So what’s it all about, man?” Jack enquired.
“Fucked if I know.” I replied, lost in awe.
“There’s some heavy questions out there that are jostling to be answered.” Jack remarked as he stood next to me gazing up into that spectacular show.
Our hair was trailing out behind us in the onshore breeze. We could feel the sun’s heat on our faces and its ruddy glow made our faces shine and tinged the blowing strands of hair with orange.
“Did it all begin? Will it all end?” I said.
“There’s electricity running through it, man,’ Jack remarked looking sombre and all-knowing. ‘It’s like a wave of energy that holds us all together. We’re riding the crest of some wave. You can feel it running through you.”
“That’s what god is.” I agreed.
“It’s what religions try to describe,’ Jack acknowledged wisely. ‘That buzz.”
There was plenty to contemplate.
“A new day, man.” Jack finally asserted, turning his face away from the mutating skies.
“There ain’t no god,” I said rather whimsically, really moved by the beauty of that expanse of sky with all its wonders. I had this feeling that t was putting on a special show just for our benefit. It was spread out there before us in all its majesty; the awesome infinite reaches of eternity in wondrous splendour. It was the ultimate cathedral of the heavens; an amazing spectacle that took your breath away. On that beach, with its wide expanse of seas before us you could appreciate the size; you got a feel of the vastness. It was magical. You could feel it permeating through to your inner being and filling you with its energy. We were connected to it; part of it and it flowed right through us. But it wasn’t god. Jack had put his finger on it; it was too mystical for anything as mundane as god. There was no purpose to this; no heaven or hell; no human meaning; it was pure, raw energy flowing through us, around us and we were immersed in it. ‘’It’s incredible, man. Just atomic physics. Just some unified field theory holding all energy and matter in space and time.”
“And our mind and soul?” Jack enquired, seeming to be amused by my remarks.
“If there is such a thing as a soul it’s connected to that fucking buzz. You can feel it, man,’ I replied with a big grin on my face. The world was alright this morning. I felt connected. “That buzz is what runs through us, the world, music, the whole fucking universe.”
“Do you think we’ve got a soul?” Jack pressed, looking me straight in the eyes with amusement creasing his eyes. He seemed to be teasing me, pushing me further and holding back on his own views.
“This is infinity, man,’ I replied happily enough. I took a deep lungful of air and beamed up at that magnificent sky. “Anything’s fucking possible!”
“I dunno either,” Jack conceded with the amusement breaking out all over his face and transforming it into a great beaming delight. He took a deep breath and beat his chest like Tarzan. He roared up into the heavens and let it all out before subsiding into a contemplative demeanour of satisfaction. We sat ourselves down on the dunes to watch it unfurl. It felt good.
“There has to be some mystical thing,” Jack said thoughtfully as we both sat deeply enthralled. “You can feel it. I don’t mean some God in the sky shit. I mean some pulse of pure energy that permeates the universe. That connects our minds to the stars. That connects us all.”
I nodded in agreement. How could you not when you were moved by such a spectacle?
“It’s not real, man.” Jack grinned impishly as he sat there staring out at the sea with its sparkling shards of reflected sun. “I’m in a prison cell, in the pitch black darkness, awaiting execution. I’m locked up, insane, and imagining all this.”
“Yeah,’ I agreed meditatively with a serious frown. “You’re certainly insane. That bits correct. But I’m not sure about the other stuff. I think you’re doing alright.” I grinned across at him. There was a kinship between us. Somehow we hit the same buttons and it felt easy and natural to be with him. “I’m the one that’s in real trouble, man,” I explained. “I’m a mind in space,” I pursed my lips and shook my head sadly. “That’s much worse. My prison walls are infinity thick and nothing exists. I’ve had to invent the whole fucking universe to save myself getting bored.”
“How do I know you exist at all?” Jack responded mischievously.
“Well I know you don’t exist, man,” I guffawed, tossing pebbles towards the water. “You’re a figment of my imagination. Nobody as warped as you could be rationally produced. I produced you as a flawed concept.”
‘Why’d you do that, man?”
“I build imperfections into the universe in order to convince myself that it’s real. Perfection would be too hard to swallow,” I explained.
“Well I wish you’d invented some food I’m getting fucking starving.” Jack chuckled and then cracked up.
We both stood up and flung stones out into the sea.
His cackling laugh skimmed out across the sparkling waves like a skimming rock.
“Trouble with you, man, is that you’ve got no soul.” I complained morosely