This entry was posted on Dec 18 2009 by

We are but drops of water in an endless sea of time.

Cousin Joe is the eldest of my generation in the family.  My paternal grandmother cared for all of us kids during the summer breaks from school, so we spent quite a lot of time together growing up.  Joe never lacked for new and interesting ways to pass the time.  He had me convinced at a tender young age that he was a close friend of Spider-Man—who would drop by my grandmother’s single-wide now and again—and I believed him wholeheartedly despite never seeing Joe and the webslinger in the same room together.  I remember another occasion when he drew elaborate control panels on poster board, which he taped to my grandmother’s TV tables and arranged around the living room, thereby transforming it into the bridge of the Enterprise.  As the eldest, the role of Captain Kirk was his birthright.  As the youngest, I filled the seat of Chekov (or maybe it was Sulu).  When we see each other these days, I have more hair on my chin than I did then, and Joe has less hair on his head, and the world couldn’t be stranger.

Unbeknownst to me until recently, Joe now channels his fascination with the Final Frontier into astral photography.  Whenever he gets the urge, he ventures from his Southern California home and out into the desert, where he points his telescope and camera at the heavens:


 M42 and Running Man - Joe Good

I asked Joe if his photos (which can be viewed at his online gallery) are the way things really look, and he answered that it depended on what I meant (Joe majored in philosophy and religion, so you’re rarely asking him the question that you think you are).  He told me they haven’t been digitally manipulated, so in that sense, yes, they are the way things really look.  But they are the way things really look now as seen from Earth, not the way things really look now at the sources.  The light traveled from each location for up to billions of years to reach Earth, so the photographs represent how things really looked at that long-ago moment in the universe’s history, a time before the existence of telescopes or humans or even the Earth itself.

How many sci-fi stories deal with the invention of elaborate machines that allow users to witness events that occurred before their lifetime?  With his simple explanation, Joe made me realize that to make such fictions a reality, all I need to do is step outside and gaze skyward.  If I’d majored in philosophy and religion, I’d probably go off on some tangent about the triviality of a single human lifespan—no matter what the accomplishments—in the grand scheme of space and time.  Thankfully I’m merely a writer of comics, so I have no such inclinations. 

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Percy Jackson & The Olympians © Rick Riordan. Images from Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Graphic Novels © Disney Enterprises, Inc.
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