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Natural Deaths

The universe is dying.
A study of galaxies has shown that new galaxies produce less energy than older galaxies. Around half of what the older galaxies used to produce.
Older stars are fading faster than new ones are made.
Everything is expanding. Drifting apart.
These are scientific facts.
As above, so below.
Where it used to be so easy to bounce back from a shattered heart, it has become increasingly ever more difficult. The heart has less energy to propel itself around its orbit. It takes about twice as long for the heart to renew itself.
Old dreams are fading faster than new ones are made.
And with every expansion is a drifting apart.
And why should we be spared? It is the way of everything. And it’s the resistance that kills you faster.
A season of loss.
An over arching theme of breakage, rending, dismantling, and spontaneous combustions has been my lot for the past few months.  And most recently, the loss of someone who meant so much to me right on the heels of several losses too that left me winded and crippled for a while.
But let us not dwell on those losses.  They are over. What’s left is the task at hand. How do we go on? Let us look to the stars for the answers.  Again.
For isn’t a heartbreak like a little death? Not like the French idea of La petite mort (their idiom for orgasm). Or maybe it is. Because isn’t it called a climax as well? Like the climax of a star?
How does a star die? When a star runs out of fuel inside its core, it expands several times its former size.  This is a bad time to be near a dying star. You can get burned and sucked into it in its desperation to keep itself alive. It will burn anything in its reach and path to survive. But as it burns everything around it, it creates all these heavy elements that are byproducts of its burning. These byproducts, such as helium, causes it to cool down.  And the cooler it becomes the less gravitational pull it has.  The less it is able to keep those near it to remain nearby, the cooler it becomes.  It is a spiralling death.
Now, they say several things can happen to a dying star.  It can collapse into itself so densely that it will become a white dwarf, or a degenerate dwarf. The last one makes me giggle so we won’t use that again. If a white dwarf happens to be around another star, it will accrete material from that nearby star because it has so much gravitational pull. When the white star accumulates so much material from the other star and reaches a certain size, around 1.38 the size of our sun, it will explode in a gloriously violent explosion called a type 1 supernova.  You see these in people. They die inside and there are people nearby who can provide them with enough material to cause them to blow themselves up again and those around them.
A type 1 supernova may also be caused by two white dwarfs collapsing into each other. Like two people who have died inside and cause each other’s destruction in one great blaze of glory.
Or a white dwarf star will continue to cool down until it stops emitting light and becomes a black dwarf.  But since the calculations they have made for the length of time a white dwarf needs to become a black dwarf is longer than how old the universe is thought to be, it is thought that there are no black stars as of yet. But I wouldn’t bet on that. Maybe someone will come up with a calculation that proves there are black dwarves. Maybe they cool down exponentially faster than what was originally thought. Then that would explain the empty husks of people we know who never recovered from having their hearts expand to its limits and then have them collapse unto themselves.
But what happens when a star is too big? About 4 times bigger than the size of our sun, too big for its own good, 2 things may happen to it:
1. It can become a neutron star.  Something that’s very little understood. One of the most difficult things to study because what happens inside cannot be replicated on earth.  It is so dense that we don’t know what’s inside them. Like all great loves. Too big for their own good. They become some of the greatest mysteries of the universe. But in them, it is hypothesised, lie pools of free quarks, the very building blocks of life. A gift that keeps giving.
2. It becomes a black hole. Another great mystery.  A mystery defined mostly by what it destroys. Or distorts.  No light can penetrate it. It pulls strongly at everything around it. At the very heart of it, they propose, is what is called a singularity.  Gravitational singularity that crushes everything into infinite density. Time and space do not exist there. And doesn’t it feel like that sometimes?  That you’ve fallen inside a place with no time and space because of your own doing? There is another theory that blackholes just loop onto themselves. Imagine a donut and you’re passing through the donut hole. First you’re on one side, the next you’re on the other. It looks the same but it isn’t.  That is how they suspect that maybe blackholes could be portals to other dimensions or a “bridge to another region in the future of our universe”. I will leave you to make your own interpretations of how a great loss can be all-consuming and you become completely destructive; or how it can be so transformative that one ceases to look like anything faintly resembling one’s old self and yet be something infinitely more interesting, and may even hold secrets to wonders the others cannot even imagine about.
So it appears that what happens to us depends on how bright we burn, how much we have to burn, what is around us when we burn, what is inside us when we burn.
We can only hope that from the embers new stars are born. Or mysteries are made if not revealed. Or to hope that that one shining moment we blazed across the darkness will not be the last that we shall know.
Man used to look to the stars for guidance. The stars told him when to plant, when to harvest, when to marry, when to build a house. No more. We have stopped looking. Our city lights are brighter and they blind us with their glare.  We beam with pride at how we have come up with our lights.  We dance to their flickering. And the stars have become unchecked, unheeded, unexamined. We have disconnected from them. But the stars remain on their courses. They still have their lessons if we’d care to look up to them. They can assure us that there are several ways for things to turn out. And that every one of them is a natural death. That the best we can hope for is to go with grace. That no amount of struggling will yield different results.
Or maybe they will. I will have to keep looking at them some more.
5 thoughts on “Natural Deaths”
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