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Finding Mars

Finding Mars
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I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. I’m not a scientist. Like, I am deeply not a scientist. I know you’ve heard it before. I’m just one of those hopeless creatives, maybe a little bit pretentious, close observer, and writer of one too many metaphors and one hundred too many ellipses. I am not a scientist, but I grew up loving it. I am chronically curious, and it fascinates me, you know, the study of how things work and are and why and what. A lot of science interests me, but I’ve always been drawn to space. Physics, that stuff. I have been fascinated with the idea of space-time for as long as I can remember. This is probably because my dad, who is also a huge space fan, has always told me the latest sciency things. And, of course, as a writer/poet/artist/whatever, I can’t help but be entranced by the night sky. There are glowing dots that make pictures and an orb that disappears and reappears each month. It’s pretty magical, which I’m sure is an unscientific thing to say (may I refer you to the first sentence of this thing),but, how is it possible to not be bewitched by the stars?

When I learned that a great deal of the stars we see are already dead, I got very fixated on this. I started writing about the sky as shining graveyard, my obsession with time fed by the fact that the we were seeing light from the past. I began to wonder, if I were to stand on a faraway star, what would I see of earth. The past? I fell deep into an obsession with time. How did this whole thing work? Was the idea that time was nonlinear, that it’s all out there happening at once? Are we just set in our own point, pinned to the fabric of space-time like a dead butterfly? A specimen. Time was surrealism handed to me in a little scientific box. Mysterious, and dripping with artistic potential. Everyone had to know. They had to be told that our clocks were just empty shells. We wore ourselves down over schedules made of nothing but words.

I am still fascinated with time, I don’t think that’s really going away anytime soon, nor do I want it to. I also just kind of enjoy getting my mind blown by whatever the latest theory is. Is the multiverse a thing? Who knows. Can I write about it? Hell yeah. Sometimes scientific theories sound so much like fiction that it would simply be wrong not to be inspired by them.

I’ve got a lot could say about this topic, I could talk about our irrelevance in the vastness of the universe or something like that…but I’m not in the mood. Today I’m gonna talk about Mars (we just sent the InSight Lander up there, that’s pretty neat! Sometimes humans aren’t terrible!). So, my life has taken some twists and turns. For a multitude of reasons. I don’t need to get into all of it. In the past few years my life has had plenty of twists and turns. I moved from Florida to New York to go to school, dropped out of that school, took like a year and a half in Florida to work and decide what to do with my life, and then moved to Boulder, all while having a bit of a mental breakdown. It feels like this happened rather fast, it didn’t really, it took the time it took, but from where I’m standing it kind of all bunches together. I’ve got some medical issues, including anxiety stuff. Like, I’ve had anxiety issues since before I started remembering things.  I’m not trying to complain, it is what it is, but when you have Stuff TM things don’t stand still. There are ups and downs. And, when you add ups and downs to twists and turns you get a big old ball of what is happening right now.

Finally, we’re getting to Mars. When I’m not in Boulder, I live in Orlando, Florida. We live really close to Disney, so it doesn’t help, but the light pollution is pretty bad in all of Orlando. I look up at the stars a lot, the ones that are there. There’s this game I invented called “Is it a star or is it an airplane?” Usually it’s an airplane. I’m not fantastic a spotting constellations. I can usually see Orion’s Belt, but most of the others are difficult. You’d think as an artist I’d be good at finding pictures in the stars, but, nope… Usually I can find Venus, when it’s visible, because that planet is incredibly bright. I like Venus, she’s the only one named after a woman. Absolutely no chance at living there though.  Mars is easy to spot too, when it’s visible. Because of the whole red thing. I have grown quite attached to this planet for some reason. I don’t really know why. I’m not the biggest fan of the god it’s named for, and Saturn was always my favorite planet. I feel like Mars is always there for me though? Which it isn’t really, it’s not always visible in the sky. But, whenever I see Mars I always think “hey, it’s my dude Mars, up there, chilling, how ya doing man?” Yeah, I’m an odd one. I think it’s just that Mars is so distinctive that I can almost always find it so I always feel proud because “Yes! I identified the space object correctly! Pocket Universe confirmed it!”. Finding Mars has become a little ritual, so whenever I find it I remember that things around me are still there even if everything is different and my thoughts are being very loud. Wherever I go, I can still find Mars.

Olivia Allen
Olivia Allen is a writer and artist, who manages social media for IDEAS, and is currently very upset that Adrian Veidt killed his cat. We love stories, got an idea for a guest blog, contact her at oallen@ideasorlando.com