It’s 2am, I’m outside staring roughly speaking upwards occasionally pressing a shutter button and listening for a quiet bleep. It suddenly occurs to me that this is more or less what I do for a job.
Ok at work I’m facing downwards, the bleep is louder and it’s daytime but I’m still in the dark trying to move my body as little as possible whilst my mind is in overdrive planning the next field of view, fretting over signal to noise ratios and wondering when it’s time for the next beverage ( caffeine at work, spirits off duty). I’m even still looking at dots. These are mind humpingly immense screaming spheres of plasma at brain shaftingly huge distances, at work they’re painfully tiny molecules deep inside cells but they’re all photons making meaningful patterns .
Sooner or later a fleck of dust will hit the atmosphere above the camera get hot and make some light, if I’m lucky, I’ll capture a few a make a picture.
I can’t switch off! For the first time in ages I’m not worrying about someone dying, planning children’s science sessions or designing experiments but the meat inside my cranium keeps tick tick ticking away.
On the other hand, the air is absolutely still and rich with the scent of freshly cut barley. There’s a hedgehog snuffling round my feet, deer in the field and the sound of foxes copulating in the distance. That rarely happens at work and it’s quite relaxing ( or maybe that’s the gin).
A respectable fireball crosses the sky, I wonder how many peopleoo saw it? Note to self, always look in the same direction as the camera – it’s really bloody annoying that I didn’t photograph it.
I do like being alone, it’s not easy to do in the middle of sodding Birmingham with all the traffic noise, street lights and bloody people. I’m glad I’m married – I do really love my wife but sometimes a total absence of other people is the only way I can collect my thoughts and have a sort out.
Hey wow I think I got that one on camera. The hedgehog has left and the foxes have gone quiet – they’re probably lying back in the hay with a cigarette.
So Mum’s died which is horrible and I have wondered how I’m going to get through this but it’s an inevitable part of being human. Yes my life is probably at least half over, nothing I can do about that ( unless shortening it even further counts as a solution which it emphatically does not.).
I can’t say I’m comfortable with mortality. Existence is definitely a better than non existence but I’m basically going to have to put up with it unless someone invents sci-fi brain recording ( come on people get a move on, the clock’s ticking here!). I phucking love life.
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; hang on that’s that replicant bloke..
But I have seen amazing things. Not just your commonplace wonders of the cosmos shit like comets, eclipses and meteors – anyone can see those.
I get to discover shit, new species living in water at hundreds of degrees in the deep ocean, neurons firing, the innermost workings of cells.
Once I even got to play with a piece of Mars rock. Last week I let a fourteen year old use three million quids worth of a equipment for a school project because she asked nicely and I thought it might be fun – it was and I got cookies in return.
Even if you’re not in a discovering shit kind of job, seeing things with your own eyes can be amazing. I saw this huge bird just by looking up, wasn’t even trying and it’s the coolest thing I saw all day.
This brain is going to rot and everything it’s experienced with it but this whole life thing we’ve got going is amazing. So many people waste it sitting on their arses with cheap lager and greasy ready meals watching made up bollocks about shouty Londoners. That 14 year old is going to remember their day in the lab for a while, maybe catch that ‘go out and look at stuff bug’, pass it on and at least have some fun on their way to death, maybe she’ll find out something useful on the way or at least have some cookies.
It’s 3am, I’m walking the dog in three hours and my feet are damp, maybe I should get some sleep.
But switch off? No! There’s way too much stuff to see!