Stephen Hawking passed away this week.
When I heard the news there was a certain element of sadness…which was more for his family than anything else.
This was a man who lived a remarkable life…to its fullest!!!
And what a life! He was a remarkable human and man who had a remarkable career. He was funny, charming and immensely inspiring. Stephen leaves a legacy where he challenged all of us to think, to really think. Deeply!
Despite his physical ailments Stephen enjoyed life through 76 years on this planet.
Some of the things I loved about this man was his humility and humour. He did not swell to the ego of academia.
His writings reached out to all of us and invited regular folk the opportunity to really understand on a level never before offered to ideas never before contemplated nor comprehended or shared before.
That was his brilliance in a nutshell.
Stephen was challenged constantly by his peers and always answered them with quiet honesty and fact.
I loved his curious mind and his desire to explore one of our most baffling and intriguing frontiers…the space time continuum.
At times in my life I have felt an connection on some strange level to Stephen because of my own interest in time and its very concept.
I am certainly no physicist…and so far from the very notion it is just crazy!
You see I had a fear of numbers in my youth. I am a visual learning. Text books back in the day did little to impress formulas on my youthful self. Memorizing things was the way to go for a time, though what practicality of what I was trying to embed into my neurons made little to no sense and consequently slipped into the depths without consequence.
I did come to realize that this world we inhabit is ruled by numbers to a certain degree and in many ways I felt I’d been left behind as I just didn’t get it. Not at all.
As I got older these interests that I had in time, in space I began to embrace in my late 30’s.
I began picking up books and those books, such as ‘A Brief History of Time’ I read with a voracious appetite. Not only were doors opening but ideas were springing forth and thoughts with regard to exploring the ages.
I watched shows, documentaries and I hungered for knowledge. Wanting, desiring, needing.
Like billions of people before me and I am certain the billions that will follow, I wanted to know where we came from and what our purpose was.
I was a single mother with a beautiful child. I can recall, on one of those nights when sleep just would not come, I slipped from the house in my red velour house coat and sat on the curb in front of my rental home with smoke in hand gazing up at the stars above.
And I looked up into the night sky and pondered for a moment if another being was gazing out from their home planet into this great expanse we call space wondering if someone was looking out at them just as I was.
Pink fuzzy slippers peeked out beneath the house coat as my cigarette burned down and then I ground it out after one last drag.
I wondered if they ever felt the way I did, and in that moment which is about 28 years ago, I felt an energy move through me. Powerful, quiet and remote.
With the underlining message ‘I was not alone!’
And I felt mesmerized, connected and defined all in one swift moment.
I’ve had these sensations a few times, though they’ve been sparing, in my quest to connect.
Perhaps it is just the human condition.
Yet these moments are, in my mind, defining ones. They are moments that give me pause and shape and direct or re-direct my life.
And Stephen Hawking is one of those whose energies, just by the words he has written touched me a way I had never known.
Having read his work I realized the things I thought about, the things I was ‘secretly’ exploring were not foolish or stupid notions and they certainly were not secretive.
In fact, Stephen Hawing’s work confirmed that my odd curiosities had merit. Maybe, just maybe I had the makings of a brain after all.
And this came from a girl whose beginnings were demeaning, from a girl who had not had the privilege to finish high school; this from a girl who had been homeless at 16 years of age….and from a girl who was trying so desperately to be a woman her young daughter could look up to and respect.
The way I saw myself back then was dismal at best as I lacked self-confidence in the worst way.
Yet I read and those books, articles and everything in between they stamped their collective meanings and interpretations on me.
Some I held fast to these readings, dissecting and observing everything, while others I questioned and reviewed before I spit them out.
Even those that I did not agree with helped me to learn and grow.
I look at someone like Stephen Hawking who had this fabulous mind, so well tuned, and it was this muscle that rendered him genius. Those neurons that fired collectively from abstract thought to cohesive and formative ideas that were then developed into factual principles that challenged all of us.
Stephen has offered this world a deeper, more complex understanding of our own humanity in many ways.
And here I am on this Friday evening after a long week at work, in a local pub and some four beer in, considering this planet, this thing we call space and the concept of time itself.
What does it mean? What is it? And where does it go?
Considering this thing we call life, I ask and challenge myself, here and now, what can I do to give back to this world, this planet to make it better?
Is it even possible?
Still the chance that there is some simplicity to all this that we must try. We are increasing in numbers on this planet,
Perhaps if we all try to:
- Respect each other
- Respect this planet we inhabit
- Conserve our usage of her resources
- And never ever forget to love!
We can make it a difference.