I read The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan during January of this year. The book was absolutely incredible. It was comprised of a series of short essays and stories by Marina, a 22-year-old Yale grad. Her family compiled her work after she died in a freak car accident, 5 days after graduation. The book has an eerie but inspiring tone. Her death emphasizes the urgency of being young and in love and having so much time. Yet how we really only have the time that we have. It’s hard to discuss the book as a whole because each piece inside of it is wonderful in a different way. But my favorites were her essays “The Opposite of Loneliness,” “the Ingenue,” and “Putting the “Fun” Back in Eschatology” and her short stories, “Cold Pastoral” and “Winter Break.”
I want to talk about “Putting the ‘fun’ back in eschatology” because reading it provoked so many thoughts. This short essay is about how the sun is going to burn up one day and how everything on the Earth will die, so that really the only way to truly have any permanency is to find a way to sustain life in space. Marina makes an amazing point that “maybe all of this talk of the inevitability of aliens is garbage, and we’re miraculously, beautifully alone in our biological success.” She finishes the essay, “I don’t want to let the universe down.” What an idea! It’s true. I buy into it wholeheartedly. It makes me want to study science and devote my life to the development of this possibility, to begin a study and a team of researchers who focus on finding a way for humans to live in Outer Space.
I love to think about the Universe, the Galaxy. I don’t even know the word to use for “all that there is;” everything somehow seems inadequate. It’s exciting and it’s frightening. To me, it’s comforting to know that I’m so small, so insignificant. It’s a selfish safety net that makes me think, if I fail it’s okay, because I’m just a speck of dust anyway. Some people feel the opposite way. They want to feel special and important. The fact that nothing they do will actually matter makes them sad, unmotivated, or depressed. Maybe this is an existentialist thought derived from one of my Sysko classes, but I like to be able to set my own importance, to scale it. Some days I can feel important, and on others I can feel really small. I think that a lot of things about this life are arbitrary and stupid, but I believe in us, in the human race. Honestly, whenever you think about the universe, the galaxy, “all that there is,” it’s very humbling. It makes it that much more important to hang onto everything that we love and that we do. It doesn’t make our lives pointless or less of anything. Knowing the vast emptiness and mystery of space just means that we should feel so lucky to live on this planet that sustains life so well. We, as humans, have been given a tremendous responsibility. We are probably the smartest, the most capable species in existence. What are we going to do with it?
Link to read Putting the “Fun” Back in Eschatology: http://yaledailynews.com/weekend/2010/09/24/putting-the-fun-back-in-eschatology/
Catherine Habgood ’16