Planetarium

by Nic Olson

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I’m still nauseous from the planetarium.

I went in a bout of depression to remind myself that I am infinitesimal and insignificant and that my depression is illogical. Because logic has so much to do with it. I have a friend who uses the opposite idea, that the fact that there is life on earth means that we are significant, the only discovered life in hundreds of millions of planets. Like all I needed was more pressure of being one of the few pieces of life in the universe. But now they’ve found a seemingly habitable exoplanet, and I am back to not knowing what to think.

In the first planetarium segment, Harrison Ford spoke of life outside our solar system in an already out-of-date presentation. In the second presentation, a man with a bow-tie forgot that his job was entertaining and educating children, and made a dizzy unplanned flight to the edge of the galaxy and back.

I stepped into the sunlight and ate some trailmix on a downtown picnic table. My biggest worry was not the sun exploding (because I learnt that it won’t) or finding out that life is ubiquitous (because it undoubtedly is), but how to write anything ever again when I don’t believe in anything ever at all. It’s easy to be a nihilist as a white hetero male. Because you know everything on earth sucks but you don’t have to worry about being shot in a racist province or having to stand up for your rights in order to survive. So you can get away with thinking that nothing matters.

I printed a star map for when I go camping next month. I started telling people that I was going on a self-planned writing retreat in the remote woods. Until I got scared of writing. Now I tell people I’m going camping. The only reason I’m sitting here writing this horseshit is as an experiment, to see if my chest implodes or if the world loses its orbit with the sun and flies into outerspace and we all freeze to death instantly. To show myself that my writing, no matter how good or bad, isn’t the last remaining key to sweeping social change, but that it’s just writing to make me feel human, that other humans might relate to. It is no more a noble craft than scrubbing toilets.

I’ll use the star map to point me from the Big Dipper to Arcturus to Bootes to Cygnus to pretend I can see Kepler-186f. And Kepler-186f will whisper in my ear that there are plenty of things that matter, such as advocating for social justice, and scrubbing the toilets of the known universe, also known as, writing.

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