Commonplace wonders

I get up pretty well the same time every morning. I open the blinds in the bedroom, feed Rigby, and make myself the first latte of the day. I return to bed with my coffee and settle myself down to read (always the newspaper, or non-fiction in the AM). Rigby, familiar with this routine, will follow me keenly before jumping onto the bed and settling himself down beside me. Rigby likes to lay in the sun. He’ll find that wedge of sunlight and sit himself in the middle of it, looking contentedly out of the window.

This has been the pattern pretty well since Rigby and I have been together, from winter to summer and back again. More than once I’ve sat there looking at him, curious about all manner of aspects, but this morning I articulated in my mind some of the things that intrigued me.

I’m reading a book at present that deals, among other things, in scientific discovery. I dare say I’ve been infected a little by the spirit of the book, and find myself experiencing some of the scientific curiosity that has driven mankind for millenia. It was this curiosity that had me pause and observe today.

I’ve long been aware of the quirks of the early morning sun as it comes in through my window. Rigby shifts himself to move with it, sometimes at the foot of the bed, sometimes near the head of it. I wondered what I would think observing this without the benefit of science. Once explained it’s easy to take different phenomena for granted, forgetting that once they were complete mysteries, or hotly disputed between science and religion. I could imagine in another age watching the dog move with the sun, observing how the sun changes it’s angle without apparent reason, and wondering why. Indeed even today, understanding the general theory without the specifics, I was curious to know the why of it.

In another age the simplest question would be to ask why does it change? Why is the sun sometimes low in the sky, and sometimes high? Why does it rise, and then set? Why does it appear in one quadrant one day, and different one another? Is it the movement of us – the earth? – or is it the sun? Or is it both?

Of course while considering this there are different variables, from the prosaic to the significant. It changes in my world according to how far I pull the blind up. On cloudy days the movement of the sun (funny that’s how we automatically refer to it – though it us that moves) seems negated altogether. More important are the seasonal variations, which pose further questions: why is it hot in one part of the year, and cold in another?

Look, none of this is a mystery anymore, though all of it remains fascinating (to me at least). I guess I’m making a point of it now not because it is unknown, but because once it was, and because to be curious seems perfectly natural and healthy. And finally, because it is good to ask and not simply presume. Our world – our universe – is a universe of great wonders; we are governed by fascinating principles that we can measure and predict, though not completely understand as yet. It’s easy to accept all around us as our due, but much greater fun to recognise the wonder in which we exist.

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