Space, Imagination, and Mortality

By Kristin Khadija Mahmoud

When I was a girl, I used to think about the vastness of space.  My head would hurt as I tried to visualize how big it could be. Where was it going if it was expanding outwards?  What lay beyond it? Was it a blank, white canvass that was slowly being filled up?

It always terrified me.  I thought about life and my mortality.  We are small and insignificant against the stretching, swirling colors of the universe.  I used to ask my dad about death. I would weep. What if there was nothing? Religions tell us differently, my own faith tells me there is a beyond, a beyond that transcends our physical form.

But what lays outside of our universe?  I imagine our souls traveling to another planet, another world and that the heavens literally are the heavens.  I can fly on planets with less gravitation pull compared to earth, or I can breathe underwater, or not even worry about breathing because it won’t matter.  Space keeps growing because we keep filling it up.

I suppose my great fear of the universe stems from what we don’t know, from the things that exist outside of our minds.  I imagine it, but I never know what it is.  The fear is palpable, it sucks the air right out of my lungs like I am falling and the earth is rushing to meet me.  At such a young age, I contemplated my mortality and the fear of not having the answers.

Writing is a way to give comfort to my fears, to speculate about the world and my existence without out the fear of being wrong since no one has the answer to what lays beyond the stretching universe.  Maybe scientists have a clearer idea, I follow the subject of space, solar systems, and universes arbitrarily and at a distance, I am out of my depth in this department. Stories make the universe seem smaller because I control what exists within and it makes my brief mortal existence powerful. 

When I die, will I meet my parents again in a world where the sun never sets?  Will I get the chance to explore the unknown, the things I’ve been afraid of without worry?  Who can say? I’m less afraid of my mortality in this regard because I’ve convinced myself that we are giving birth to the stars.  Our imaginations are creating wondrous worlds we’ll never get to see.

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