Why in the world do we exist? What sustains us in and above the void of nothingness?
A series of experiments hold the answer. I recall an ordinary day that made this obvious. Everyone was already at the hospital making morning rounds. “It doesn’t matter,” I thought as I scraped a patch of ice crystals off the window. “I’m already late.” Through the clear area I could see the underlying apparatus of the trees lining the road. The early morning sun slanted down, throwing into gleaming brightness the bare twigs. There was a feeling of mystery contained in that scene, a powerful feeling that something was veiled behind it that wasn’t accounted for in the scientific journals.
I put on my lab coat and set on my way to the university. As I strolled toward the hospital I had a curious impulse to detour round the biology pond. Perhaps I preferred to avoid harsh-etched things before my eyes at morning: the sight of the stainless-steel machines perhaps, or the stark lights in the operating room. It was this that had brought me to pause at the edge of the pond, in undisturbed quiet and solitude. Thoreau would have approved. “Poetry and art,” he wrote “and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour.”It was comforting to overlook the pond, and watch the photons dancing on its surface like so many notes from Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. For an instant my body was beyond affection by the elements, and my mind merged with the whole of nature as much as it has ever been in my life. In that unassuming calm I saw nature, naked and unclothed, as she was for Eiseley and Thoreau. I headed back to the hospital, where morning rounds were nearly finished. A dying woman sat on the bed before me. Outside