I stare at the sky. I lose myself in the brilliant color, the quality of changing light, the clouds passing. Staring relaxes my mind, becomes meditation. The immensity of the vast firmament puts my life in perspective. I breathe, perceive this infinite field of vision and start to see the little cells in my eyes dancing. It’s like a hallucination and my ego vanishes in it. I wonder about the nature of perception and about human limits; I become more aware of my consciousness. To think of the interconnectedness of all things — the bird, the tree, the wind… I wonder how it must be like to fly, to grow branches and leaves, to be the breeze. Does a tree feel the wind blowing through it?
It’s natural to wonder. The big questions come so easily: Why are we here? Where does life come from? What does it all mean? It’s so inherent somehow to ask why, as if any answer could be satisfying. I think the answer is the question itself. The sky tells me so. Looking up, I somehow know. I feel profound poignancy.
In the black sky the feeling deepens. It’s so full of mind-boggling significance. Stars are incomprehensible distances away, the math impossible to grasp. Zooming out from the sun, it’s clear how infinitesimally small we are, really, in the grand scheme of things. Zooming in is the opposite, into our cells, our biology. Somehow I find it freeing — to be such a speck of dust floating in the universe, and to also have universes within us, coursing through our veins. There’s an existential magic to all of it.
None of this is supernatural. It’s all real, perceivable. The lack of belief in a supernatural creator is called atheism. No Ra, no Zeus, no Yahweh, no Allah, except as ideas. The concept of a deity is alluring, but I think it’s important to live life free from it. I value the limited time we have in this world, and think it destructive to imagine a place for our souls beyond it, and a master under which to live. I am awestruck by the universe without attributing its creation to something invisible and unverified. The world is enough— in all its madness— without self-imposed submission to that which cannot be known. I am an atheist.
God is just a word, really. And maybe we can use it to signify the energy field we feel between each other, the auras that exist in rooms we enter. Sure, there may be something beyond current science, but it need not be mythical or superstitious — it’s actually real enough for us to sense it. Maybe we can think of god as a surrogate for the laws of nature, the vast interconnectedness and the confounded sense of our place in it. If a religious person devotes herself to a sort of spirit, I sympathize. Looking up, how can’t I too give in to an amazing force that flows through all things?
We’re spiritual beings. Transcendence is a part of us. We can celebrate the mysteries of the universe, the unfathomable grandeur beyond the here and now. But must we prescribe an additional set of absurd beliefs to this feeling? I strive to be present, to seek real knowledge and to live life in the unanswerable questions. I am spiritual without god.
Life is fascinating enough. I’m drawn to the mysticism. We have the capacity to connect deeply with something beyond us, something deep in our consciousness and somehow outside of it. We feel it in the clouds. We feel it in the ocean. I stand on a beach and stare at the infinite sea. A wave of serenity and deep understanding sinks into me, permeates my being. I breathe it in. I look up, out, beyond, and I see everything.
All films and images: Keith Telfeyan