The Ultimate Traveler

Summer                                                                             Solstice Moon

In my own travels I often look to find myself as the other, therefore to see myself more clearly.  When in Angkor, for example, the quarter mile long bas relief sculpture, which culminates in the churning of the sea of milk by Vishnu, made the religious worldview of these 1100 A.D. Khmer Hindus evident.  What they imagined, I could see, just as a visitor to any Catholic church can see paintings of saints, views of the Last Judgment, or a man on a cross, covered only with a loin cloth, a crown of thorns on his brow.

On the streets of Bangkok vendors sold for less than twenty U.S. cents fruits I had never known existed:  jack fruit, durian, dragon fruit.  Alleys less than three feet wide ran between store fronts filled with men’s, women’s, children’s clothing, plumbing supplies, watches, toys, home furnishings.  The crowds packed into the places were large and hot.  Not at all like the Mall of America.

(Voyager’s 1 and 2 at the heliopause where the sun’s magnetic field hits the pressure of interstellar winds)

But.  There is no place on earth I can go where the influence of the sun cannot reach me.

Now this 35 year old pilgrim, on a trek to San Arcturus, or a Holy Well in the midst of the Orion nebula, will soon leave the sun’s influence behind.  Forever.  No magnetic field.  No warmth.  The heliosphere in the rear view mirror.  The solar system in the rear view mirror.  At least as we know it.  The Oort cloud is considered by some to be the true outer boundary of the solar system, but that boundary is still some 14,000 years away.

This human artifact has positioned itself as other by virtue of its madeness.  It was not crafted by the furnaces of the big bang, or the stellar ovens that crunch out elemental particles.  It was not made by the collision between planetary bodies or asteroids or volcanic activity.  No, it was made by human beings out of materials created in all those ways.  And now we have returned them to their origin, refashioned and able to talk about their experience.

But, ironically, Voyager is, exactly, the universe reflecting on itself, seeing itself, knowing itself.  Its pilgrimage is the same one Apollo inscribed on the doorway over his Delphic temple, Know thyself.  Only in this case the pilgrim is the universe, voyaging not to experience itself as other, but as its self.  Thus, Voyager can be seen as a metaphor for our inner journey, where we try to move beyond the Oort field of the Self, in order to better know the Self.  An equally daunting  trail.

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