I start my car and pull on to the road. The sky is hung quietly above me. There’s a single cloud towards the west, meandering, with a pinkish hue that bursts in my mind like cotton candy. It looks soft but tomorrow it’ll have jagged edges where the wind will have tugged at it. The day after, it’ll dissipate. The Sun is low in the sky and so it’s late in the evening. Not the time to be going home, but the time to be at home. I notice a bird dive in front of the car. It maneuvers to the right quickly and flies past me. There are two planes leaving marks high up in the sky, slowly gathering distance between them, like galaxies floating away from each other.
My route is a scenic one till I hit the highway. There are large windmills slowly churning away with the wind’s efforts. They look small from the distance but are massive. I know because I’ve driven past them once and stood in awe of how large they towered over the ground. But for now, from this distance, they are small. Behind them, the Rockies stand like behemoths. The mountains scale over the windmills almost in a greek tragedy of the Gods. Yet from all this distance, they all seem like toys given to a child. I head east. The city comes into view, a large tract of land stretching as far and wide as the eye can see, efficiently manicured, landscaped and built to perfection. There must be thousands living in these homes. But soon, I get closer to them and I see only small houses built for a family of four.
I cross all that urbanization and get on the highway. The road is straight and relaxing. I watch as townships fly by. I’m driving at sixty miles an hour. That might not seem much until you look just below the reading and it says 100 km/h. That’s fast. I climb a hill and slow down in the process. Suddenly, fifty-five miles seems like a crawl. As I get to the summit, I can see the great vastness beyond me. The city of Boulder lies ahead, spread out like a paintball on a victim caught unaware. The mountains still hang beyond, majestic; It is not just one rock jutting out of the earth but layers and layers of rock, each overshadowing the one in front, yet seeming so small from where I stand. My home is 15 miles from my workplace, another number that deceives. I’ve never driven more than half that distance to get to work in India, but here in the US, these distances seem small.
As I fly across the country, I realize the vastness of it all. The mountains are many miles away, yet are so large and uncompromising. The cloud and the planes in the sky are farther still, nothing to say of the now setting Sun and the stars beyond. How are we going to get there? How are we, so small in thought and action, going to affect the cosmos as it affects us? One can imagine the Universe in the eye of a marble, but the Universe is not, indeed, a marble. It is vast and we are small. We call ourselves conquerors only because of the slow march of humanity across land and sea. We call ourselves explorers only because others have dared before us to build the path. Sitting in that car listening to my favorite music, suddenly, I am aware of the vastness of the world around me. It is humbling to know that the world is kind enough to let us conquer it instead of usurping us whole. But is the rest of the Universe similarly kind?
The windmill is larger than anything I could have imagined. Yet it stands solitary in its quest against the mountain. It turns slowly, powerfully, inevitably and in the end, the windmill will win.