I think it’s safe to say that no one believes the state of our current society is anywhere close to being a utopian one à la George  Zebrowski’s Macrolife (1979) or Thea Alexander’s 2150 AD (1976). Want to be instantly depressed and overwhelmed with feelings of panic and anxiety? Just turn on the news for a few minutes – global warming, overpopulation, a deepening recession, the real estate crisis, a seemingly endless stream of companies going out of business, more people losing their jobs, their houses, their future….

 

And then there’s the ever-present threat of terrorism, North Korea testing nukes, random acts of senseless brutality, swine flu, mad cow disease, flesh eating bacteria, Drew Peterson, the Caylee Anthony murder case, Paris Hilton’s newest BFF, Miss America’s breast implants, Celebrity Rehab, Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels…

 

Simply staying sane can seem overwhelming sometimes. But amidst all of the madness and depravity and general stupidity, there are moments of god-like transcendence: glorious, life changing experiences that momentarily obliterate all the evil from the world with its beatific glow and leave only goodness and love and light. Like witnessing the birth of a child.
 

Over the weekend, my wife delivered our second daughter and, moments after she was born, this baby – just seconds-old – opened her eyes and stared into my soul. Behind those tiny blue irises was nothing short of the collective hopes and dreams for the future of an entire civilization. Pure unadulterated potential. Limitless possibilities. Staring into those perfectly uncorrupted and unfathomably perceptive eyes reminded me of the conclusion of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic 1968 science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey in which astronaut David Bowman’s strange encounter with the crystalline monoliths ends with his transformation into the immortal Star Child.

 

“Then he [The Star Child] waited, marshaling his thoughts and brooding over his still untested powers. For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something...”

Not unlike Bowman’s rebirth, the most fitting word to describe the moment a child enters the world is miraculous. And if you’ve read Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, you’ll know that our very existence is a miracle in and of itself:

“Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favored evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely – make that miraculously – fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains and rivers and oceans, everyone of your forbears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from it's life quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result – eventually, astoundingly, and all to briefly – in you.”

So if the recent glut of bad news has negatively affected you in any way – or if the depravity of this world is starting to get you down – just remember how lucky you are to simply be alive! And just like the astronauts in Clarke’s 2001, our future – although it may seem bleak at times – is abounding with undiscovered wonders, endless possibilities for unexpected experiences of self-exploration, edification and enlightenment, and the knowledge that anything – absolutely anything – is possible.

Don’t believe me? Just look into the eyes of a newborn baby – or should I say the eyes of a  Star Child…

Message Edited by paulgoatallen on 05-27-2009 09:25 AM
Comments
by Moderator becke_davis on ‎05-27-2009 10:34 AM
Paul - this is a beautiful post. You should save a copy of it in your new daughter's baby book, so she can read it when she's old enough to have discovered some of her limitless potentential.
by on ‎05-27-2009 09:39 PM

Paul,

 

You are so right about the beauty and potential of a newborn.  You also have some great examples of classic Science Fiction.  I agree with Becke that you should put this in Helena's baby book for her to see and share with her family someday.  Congrats again. 

 

Toni

About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.

Advertisement

Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Categories