Ron Colone: Surfing the headlines, pondering the Universe | Columnists

Maybe it’s information overload. Maybe it’s a feeling of powerlessness, that there’s only so much I (or any of us) can do about what’s going on in the world.

I got to wondering these things today when I found myself skipping past one article after another, which on some other day and at some other time would almost certainly have piqued my interest, caught my attention and stimulated written musings on my part.

Surely, if my mind was less cluttered, I would have read the article on how memory details fade over time, which would then have almost certainly sparked a bout of storytelling — bringing forth events from my long-ago past that remain with me still, despite all else that has transpired in my lifetime. They persist through time and continue to occupy space in my world (though, as the headline of the article implied, the details of some have faded.)

If I wasn’t so locked into thinking about my schedule and all the things that have to get done, I’m sure I would have read the piece about the hidden bridges between galaxies.

And if I had read both of those articles, then I might have begun to ponder the nature of dark energy, or what cosmologists sometimes call the cosmic web. And I probably would’ve then posed the question: Doesn’t it seem strange that despite not being able to say what it is, or pin down where it is, scientists are certain, nonetheless, that it is, and that it occupies 80% of the universe?

And had I read those articles, rather than just scrolling past them, then I may have even proposed what just might be an entirely original take on the nature of dark energy. That it is made up of all the memories and longings and passions that persist and that endure; our dreams and desires, our wonderings and ponderings and imaginings, our doubts and questions, our thoughts and feelings, and all the things you can’t pull out and put on display in front of you for someone else to see but are with you nonetheless. Not only are they part of you, they make up (or is it take up?) the vast majority of our universe — each of ours.

And I would likely further have compared the things about us — that you cannot see — to the filaments that stretch through space and connect the galaxies. They connect us to ourselves and each other across the time and space of a lifetime, if not lifetimes.

And I would likely then have remarked something to the effect of how it is no wonder they haven’t located or identified the mysterious “dark matter” that occupies the majority of the universe. It is because they keep looking out into space rather than into our souls.

On some other day, if I had the time and wasn’t otherwise occupied, I’m pretty sure I would have read the article about which cognitive traits decline as we get older, which ones improve and which ones stay the same; and I would probably then have shared that information with “my readers,” and likely would have tacked on some encouraging message at the end.

And I’m guessing that if my body had been more relaxed, and my thoughts less focused, I would have at least looked at the article about how and why men and women think and act differently, and hopefully, after reading it, I would not have launched into a discussion of gender, which I’m finding to be a topic and an issue that is causing extreme discomfort and prompting extreme disdain in today’s society.

But as it is, I just kept scrolling down the list, reading all the titles but none of the articles.

Maybe if it had been a hard-copy magazine, and you couldn’t turn the pages without also seeing pictures, then maybe something would have compelled me enough to read. But nothing did.

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