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Love at the end of time?
We either rise together or we die together.
And with a blink of the eye we were there.
The end of the universe.
It was the last couple million years before the end of everything known and unknown alike.
I trembled, even if not really there, and looked upon the cosmic dust that was dimly lit by a dying star close by.
We were weightless here, but my feet did not sway, held by an anchor attached to a floor that did not exist, we stood at the threshold of time and space as we watched the last of the largest asteroids collide with one another.
"Where are we 5?" I asked. "What is this?"
"It's the end of time..." 5 responded calmly.
"What's happening?" I watched intently as I realised there was nothing there. Nothing but dead rocks, a dying brown dwarf, and us...
Standing in the void.
"What happened here?" I asked turning to him.
"Life has killed itself off... many many billions of years ago by now. This is what's left. The last star in the sky..." He said in his usual calm and casual tone.
"The last wars, the wars that tried to claim the last of the stars left in the sky, it all led to extinction. Mass extinction. For all life."
"What are you saying 5? That because life isn't around to stop this? This is how all of existence ends? A couple rocks slamming about in the darkness until what? Nothing?"
I was furious, with clenched fists I began to pace, I muttered profanities while swinging my arms in frustration. "What the fuck!?!?!" I concluded with.
"They did not set aside their differences Nathaniel. They thought of themselves, they chose not work with each other to create a stable universe, they even often viewed each other with less value than themselves." 5 waved a hand toward the rocks. "All this? This was inevitable." 5 finished as he hit his pipe and exhaled a little cloud of sparkling smoke.
He looked at me intently, as if waiting for a reaction, I felt many reactions in those moments... but eventually found the one he was looking for.
"So you're telling me... The universe is unstable, and if we don't do something about it, there will be no one in the end to stop this from happening?"
I fell to two knees... on an imaginary floor... among the imaginary dust... consumed in tears.
"How do we stop it 5? How do we stop the violence? How do we balance this fucking chaos?" I watched a tear fall from my face and crystallise as it floated away beneath me.
"War only has one outcome. If continued through to its inevitable conclusion? This will be the only possible end for this universe." He paused a long while before I spoke.
"Then something must change. We have to protect it... its beautiful. It's all too beautiful. I don't want it to end. It's too beautiful!!!"
"To avoid it? Yes... Something will need to change..."
I watched as time slipped by and the star slowly dyed off into the darkness right before my eyes.
Before the last strings of light shined to an end... 5 spoke as the darkness consumed us both.
"This universe did not know love at the end. It knew rocks. Not even sticks... Just stones." He let that sink in for a moment. He liked to zing me with metaphors and puns as often as my Neanderthal brain could take them.
It was always his thing while demonstrating how "ignorant I often am." I accept that I am ignorant... Now. Not always though.
Thankfully 5 was the kind of teacher that often had me laughing at my shortcomings, especially once I understood them.
He placed a soothing hand on my shoulder.
"But yours? Your universe?" 5 continued... "Well. First we balance home... and then... Maybe then we can take a stab at balancing the universe."
And as the darkness began to choke me a little with fear... I was suddenly back in my studio.
Hands on keyboard, sitting in my chair, and 5 was no where to be found.
I looked around the room I was no longer 100% convinced was actually there.
I knocked on the desk to be certain. It made a noise.
Quantum physics would suggest that I'm really here if the desk is reacting to my knocking. Surely I was home. Surely I was hearing the proverbial tree fall in the woods by now.
Time... What the fuck was time to a man like 5 I wondered?
I stood up... Thought on the entire journey... and realised that the universe ended because "its life" did not work together to solve their problems. They instead fought over resources and squandered an opportunity to change their collected fates by "working as one."
"If there is enough love at the end of time... Perhaps it will never end?" I asked to the air in the studio... There was no response.
I thought on the paradox of life, time, infinity.
I realised that when we are stuck in the ether of existence. Without anchor, without answers, without a reason or a rhyme sometimes.
We have to cultivate the things we love... or we truly risk losing them forever.
The world we know and cherish is nothing short of a miracle.
This life that we can all know and experience is nothing short of literally everything... Because it is all.
To preserve life?
We have to lay down our burdens... to learn to love one another in new ways. Ways previously unimagined for many, but possible for all.
We have to learn to love our enemies, if only long enough to show them a better way, if only long enough to help them tame "their own demons"... We have to be strong.
We have to not give into our fear, not give into our anger, not be consumed by our disappointment in others, to also not dwell too long on "the disappointments we often know in ourselves."
We have to patient, with ourselves and others, because who are any of us to judge a brother or a sister damned by their own misfortunes?
Sometimes... It is our misfortunes, that shape the monsters many of us are capable of becoming.
We all fail... But it's truly how we get back up that's important in this life. To not punish those around us over things truly out of their control.
We need to start perceiving other human beings as one of the most precious commodities in the entire universe... actually.
Because we are.
We are special. We have value.
And in the ether of infinite time and space? Humanity is truly a paradox worth cultivating.
We are worth loving. Worth having. Worth saving.
How we interact with the world, how we perceive ourselves, and how we chose to value others?.. It all directly impacts not only the quality of our own lives, but the quality of others as well.
At the end of time...
We will either rise together or we will die together.
The choice is ultimately ours.
As human beings, stuck on a rock, hurdling through space at extreme velocities.
We have a choice.
I don't know about you... but "I choose love."