Writing is one of the few professions where staring off into space is part of the job description.
My mind invariably wanders to strange places, asks patently odd-ball questions, and searches for even odder answers. The “What if” game is one of my favorites, and is often the springboard to quirky offerings.
A writer’s mind journeys to places others do not often travel. How many people do you know contemplate what motivates a person to act the way they do, the myriad of possible reactions to a single action, act through a scene to clear up a character’s performance, or study the why’s of how things are and their origins?
These wanderings are a writer’s playground.
The other day my “staring into space” followed an unexpected path:
I thought of the Cosmic Calendar I heard about years ago. Like many tendrils slithering through my mind, I didn’t remember exactly what it was, only the name.
Research followed (as it invariably does), and I found that famed writer and scientist Carl Sagan popularized the Cosmic Calendar in his book, The Dragons of Eden, published in 1977, and on his TV series of the time, Cosmos.
It seems that some scientists also contemplate weird thoughts.
So, what is the Cosmic Calendar?
Sagan superimposed the chronology of the universe (beginning at 13.8 billion years ago) on a one year calendar; the graphic above shows a few main events. Interesting epochs were revealed—here’s a sampling of when events occurred according to Sagan’s calendar:
Jan. 1 –Big Bang (or creation, if you choose)
Mar. 16–Milky Way Galaxy formed
Sept. 2–Formation of solar system
Sept. 6–Oldest rocks known on earth
Dec. 30–Dinosaur extinction; mammals take over.
Dec 31 (at 22:34 / 10:34 PM) — Primitive humans and stone tools (barely made it, eh?)
1.2 seconds ago–Columbus arrives in America.
Here comes my What if:
I determined a person’s life at 80 years (as a starting point). Dividing a 365 day year (I eliminated the ¼ day for simplicity) by 80 years (average lifespan), I found each “year” of one’s life equaled 4.5625 days on a person’s Cosmic Calendar.
Using this mathematical formula, I realized that my birthday (which I share with JK Rowling and Harry Potter) this year will be the October 18th of my Cosmic Life Calendar. Damn . . . or as some people would have said back in the 1970’s, “That’s cosmic, man.”
We are all born, we all die, and in between we live our Cosmic Calendar. Of course there is no guarantee any of us will see 80 years (both my parents passed at 72), but it’s a place to start, like a first draft ready to be edited or an outline forming the foundation of a novel idea.
Recently I perused a few of my writing folders (snippets, short story ideas, etc.) and saw decent entries I jotted down with the plan to return to and expand them into a complete idea. I sat back, stunned—some which I thought were penned a few months ago range back 3 years—12+ days on my Cosmic Calendar!
Understanding that I’m currently in the middle of October (nights are getting colder, old joints creaking a bit more), I again remind myself the importance of prioritizing not only my writing, but my life . . . which brings me to the conclusion of this post.
My daughter, Janiene, and son-in-law, Abraham, are visiting from out of town. Linda and I will be spending time with them today, utilizing a portion of our Cosmic Calendar with the all-important family. As a side note, today is June 22nd of Janiene’s Cosmic Calendar—Abraham is a few days further into the summer.
What is the date on your Calendar, and how will you spend it?
See you on the next page,
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