Today I condensed the universe into a ball
A small, red ball that I could pick up and bounce
And balance on my head
And shove my hand through
So I could feel that strange mix of feelings
When you touch the whole universe at once
Cold, hot, dry, wet
Prickly and smooth
Soothing and painful
And oh so sharp
Sharp as reality itself
When you condense it into a ball.
And that’s not the only weird idea I had
In just one day
One perfectly average late-summer Saturday.
I don’t normally discuss this sort of thing
But I am in a mood.
Do you know what I mean?
You probably don’t
But I’m a lunatic, kind of.
I just keep it under tight wraps, for the most part
So tight that it wants to burst through
And then I’m, like, wanting to cry
Or stand up and bang on a bunch of drums
In the middle of the street
And just announce:
“Hey! In case you were wondering, I am a lunatic.”
So how about this:
Around noon, I was wandering around, near the river
And someone jumped right behind me.
I could feel the energy
Sense the sight of another soul
With eyes that aren’t in my head
And that don’t see in the way of typical seeing
But maybe in the way that dogs know when we’re upset
And burrow into our laps.
I turned and found no one
And I was relieved
Not because no one was there;
Someone was there all right.
I was relieved because seeing no one
Meant that whoever was there
Was embedded in the universe
Somewhere beyond the ball I had made
Because the ball you make only goes so far
Only sees so deeply
Only senses as far as you can sense
In that moment
In that exact state you’re in
When the ball appears.
And souls beyond your ball
Can only hurt you so much
Though of course this also means
That they can’t do much to help you see
Whatever it is you’ve been craving, missing
Or smelling out of the side of your mind
That smells beyond your senses.
And I’m not finished!
When I got sick of the river
I headed to Harvard Square
And the ball came back.
The universe ball, that is.
The sad excuse for everything
That a limited lunatic like me
Can actually sense
The ball asked, very clearly:
“What do you want from me? What do you expect?”
I knew what the ball meant
In a way that was exact and yet not exact at all.
It meant the eclipse
And that supposedly perfect Indian restaurant
And the feeling you get when the ocean rubs up against your feet.
You’re confused, I bet, but you’re not the lunatic.
Will you humor me as I explain?
So take the eclipse.
You know what? I bought eclipse glasses
And headed to the MIT campus.
It was just a partial eclipse here
No sudden night, no afternoon stars.
But still, an eclipse.
And I stood there with my glasses
And tracked things as the bite out of the sun looked bigger and bigger
And then smaller and smaller.
I waited on a long line to see it all out of two telescopes
And when I got there
I saw basically what I saw out of my eclipse glasses
A red or orange circle with a bite taken out
And I kind of thought:
Is that all there is to it, the sun with a bite taken out
A bite from the moon?
Is this why everyone was so excited?
I kind of wished I hadn’t waited on the line
And the only reason I didn’t regret it
Is that I would have wondered with scary depth if I hadn’t.
I would have said to myself:
“If I had seen that eclipse out of the telescopes
Maybe something would have changed.”
What, exactly, might have changed?
The kind of thing that can only be explained
By one lunatic to another.
And here’s the thing:
It didn’t change at all
Unless it stems from the part of the universe
Beyond my small red universe ball.
Same basic thing with the Indian restaurant
And the beach
And almost everything that gets hyped by regular people
Looking for a peak experience.
There’s this ideal out there
And the world down below
The one I can capture through a ball in my hands
And I wonder
If I’m missing something.
In my most pessimistic moments
I think I might be missing almost everything
Because anyone who could think for one minute
That a small red ball could capture the universe
Is watching a galaxy through a pinhole.
But sometimes, I swear, I reach beyond that pinhole
And that is just when I feel like a lunatic
Just when I see what I’m told is not there
And sense what I know I shouldn’t share
Except I’m sharing it now
Just a fraction of it
A minute precursor to something enormous
Something I so hope will rain into my mind and my skin
As soon as I’m ready to break beyond the pinhole
And see, really see
Though I wonder if, at that point,
I’ll sense a new pinhole
A bigger ball that captures more but still just a small fraction of all that is
And a feeling that there’s more, if only I could figure out how
To reach it.