SideLines: Have you ever wondered?

Not long ago, I went outside at 2 a.m. like a fool to see a meteorite shower. Except for a quizzical look from my sleepy-eyed cat, I didn’t really see anything. But it got me wondering.

Have you ever looked up at the sky on a clear summer night and wondered what’s really out there? Or how far away everything is? I once got worn out driving to the east coast in a day and a half. I can’t imagine how it feels to reach another planet, or even the moon.

Speaking of the moon, do you ever wonder what it is like to take a walk up there? Or to stand there and gaze back at the Earth? The late Neil Armstrong, the first of a handful of men who have been there, said the silence and tranquility are simply overwhelming.

Much closer to home, do you ever wonder about the deep, dark mysteries of life, those internal secrets that can’t be answered by the human mind? Many try to answer them through science or religion, though seldom both together.

How can one man can look at a sunset and be moved by the beauty and majesty of its brilliant colors, while another sees it as a sign that work is done for the day? Do you wonder why one man becomes a Catholic and another a Muslim, why one doesn’t believe in God at all and still another isn’t sure?

What moves one man to be more patriotic than his neighbor? Why is one person committed to a life of peace, and another to violence?

Have you ever wondered why a hundred men can see the same woman, and one will fall in love while the other 99 will not? What does the one see? Do you ever wonder, of all the billions of people in the world, why you ended up with your spouse? Were you, as the poets say, really meant for each other, or was it simply a combination of geography and circumstance?

I wonder what a baby dreams about when she sleeps. If she has nightmares, what could they possibly be? Have you ever seen children playing with puppies and wonder how anyone could even think of harming either one of them? And yet, somehow, some people do.

I wonder why for some the greatest joys in life are in the smallest of pleasures – a gentle smile or gesture, a simple, unexpected act of kindness – yet, for others, joy can only be found in riches and extravagance. Why is one man driven for more while another is content, even grateful, with what he has? Of the two, who is really richer?

Have you ever looked at an old photograph and wondered what happened to the people in it? Did they achieve their dreams, or did their lives end in heartbreak? How many of those young faces, forever entombed in black and white, lived to old age, and how many were killed in wars or by accidents or disease?

Do you ever wonder what exciting discoveries in science and medicine are out there somewhere, just beyond our grasp, waiting for the right person to find them, either by design or accident? And what will life be like 100 years from now, thanks to those discoveries, most of which we can’t even imagine?

Do you ever wonder?

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