Wednesday, February 12, 2014

All About Nothing

All About Nothing
by Greg Larson

I dedicate this article to my good friend and writer John Davis, who continually encourages writers to start writing, even when it seems impossible to think of anything to write about.

     Sometimes I try to write, but nothing comes to mind. It’s a common malady called writer’s block. But this time I’ve decided to write about nothing. In the doldrums of winter, it is a topic that I want to shy away from. Even the landscape seems empty and barren. Nothing . . . nada . . . absolute zero . . . a scary concept. Chasms of emptiness come to mind. Big voids unfilled . . . cold cavernous areas of nothingness from deep space to empty hearts. It gives me the shivers.

     But on further inspection, there’s more to the subject than meets the eye. I’ve concluded that nothing does not exist. Now there’s a double negative that puts a body slam to the old zippity-do-dah. Nothing is made of something. Even the pencil mark of zero was created by someone who smeared volumes of graphite molecules onto the paper. And what about those nano-bits of charged data particles that are seemingly nothing when filed away on the motherboard? Computers have the capability to store entire libraries in a space the size of a pinhead. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

     One might think the utter emptiness of outer space is a good definition of nothing, but scientists will tell you it is filled with quarks, dark matter, and even the God particle. Heady stuff. Einstein himself visualized riding a beam of light through the realms of glory and mathematically proved the time clock on Earth would not move if he took a spin around the cosmic block and returned to earth on his bucking-bronco wave of energy. Now that’s something. I don’t understand it, but it is something.

     What about Absolute Zero, the coldest of cold? To scientists, the word cold doesn’t exist. They call it “absence of heat.” So far, Absolute Zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius) is only a theory. It’s a temperature that has not been attained. They’ve come close, within a tiny fraction of a degree, but the atoms just don’t roll over dead. They act a little weird, but they keep on tickin’. You’d act a little weird, too, if your temperature was a fraction from Absolute Zero.

     The closest I ever came to absolute zero was when I loaned my Starbucks gift card to Gretta, my wife. She was going to a Starbucks, so I gave her the card which I’d been carrying for months. I told her I thought it had something on it. Well, the look on her face when she returned gave me a clue that the card had been used up. The value was zero. I felt like a zero. I figured she might think of me as such. But in all of her wisdom and beauty, she came and told me I was not a zero. To her, I was a hero. For me, it was a great day to be alive in the universe, even though the beings on that far-away galaxy have no clue to the beauty and magnificence of our captive Garden of Eden that we call Earth.

     So the next time the concept of nothing comes to mind, go find that honey-do list. If you think your refrigerator is empty, go clean it out. No telling what you might find. Just be sure to throw away the cheese with the fuzzy green stuff on top. If a wall looks empty, paint it a different color or hang a picture on it. It could be the beginning of a project that really becomes something.

     If there’s nothing on the calendar, don’t (in the words of Jimi Hendrix) let the traffic lights turn blue tomorrow. Call up a friend, or take your significant other out to the coffee shop. Fill those relationship voids with love and consciousness. Keep those atoms tickin’. Get cozy and enjoy a warm cup of coffee and chocolate croissant. Then, in a Seinfeld kind of way, revel in the magnificence of the concept that nothing is something.

     Now that reminds me of the time that . . .