The Big Picture

As a bankruptcy lawyer and trustee, I am caught up in the day to day minutiae of my work: advising clients, conducting creditors’ meetings, filing Motions to Sell, serving my firm, mentoring my colleagues, and on and on. These things consume me every day as though they were fire. I counsel my clients every day not to become too caught up in their financial difficulties, to take a deep breath, to embrace the promise of a fresh start, and to remember that life goes on after you suffer a financial reversal. But who is there to remind me to have some perspective? It is up to me to take a deep breath and remind myself as often as I can that I am a dad and husband and brother, as well as an individual, a citizen, a human, a creature, an Earthling, a child of the universe, a little piece of creation.

Two items have really brought home to me the big picture in the last few weeks. One of them is the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, an elementary particle that confers mass on all the other particles in the universe, including us. News of the discovery (and it takes something for me to read the news any more – more on that later) reminded me that according to the scientific discoveries of the last century, we are ultimately made of energy (that’s what E=MC2 means), which reminded me in turn that this truth is represented artistically at CERN (the laboratory where they made the discovery).

The Hindu god Shiva as Lord of Dance, representing the fundamental energy of the universe

The statue is of the Hindu deity, Shiva, as Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. According to Hindu mythology and the plaque at the CERN statue, Shiva’s cosmic dance represents the fundamental energy of the universe.

The second item that gave me some perspective in the past few weeks is that I started watching a video course on the Hubble Telescope. The sheer, jaw-dropping beauty of the images, combined with their scientific import caused my imagination to go all vertiginous. My favorite is the Hubble Deep Field, which follows a tiny sliver of sky back almost to the origin of the universe, showing stars and galaxies that in some cases no longer even exist. As I can’t seem to resist sprinkling mythology into this post, it reminds me of a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, in which it is said of God, “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, that would be like the splendour of the Mighty One. I am mighty, world-destroying Time.”  Now that is a big picture!

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