Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Passion: Earth-bound or reaching outer-space?

Today I met a man whose heart is among the stars. He had a passion that was so obvious, it reached about a dozen community members within an hour. Passion is not uncommon. What is is it's infection of others--it's penetration within others' lives that's so powerful it makes someone interested despite previous knowledge.

His passion took form in a double-telescope set up pointedly outside the university library. It's black, sturdy legs held up two lenses aimed at the sky--the sun being the target of their gaze. He sat in a chair, gazing at the most important star we know, all the while asking others: "Want to take a look?"

I heard this question at least half a dozen times as I wrote a paper outside. Who was this man? What exactly was he looking at? I myself had been infected.

I walked over as he was re-focusing the unfamiliar contraption in front of him and asked if I could take a look. "Here, sit down", he offered. "Those black dots you're seeing are sun spots," he continued. "Some are bigger than Jupiter." I looked through both lenses, one a red screen with black dots, the other also containing dots contrasted against background reminding me of the pumpkins now smashed on people's front porches. If he hadn't have told me, I would have thought these were atoms of some sort, maybe even specs of dust.

 What this man was looking at, he explained, were sun spots created by solar flares...something to do with convection circles, visible light and particles. But that's not the point. The point is this man shared his knowledge with me, despite the quantity. In doing so, he was sharing more than information, but emotion and excitement. I had never seen the sun through a telescope before. And I'm sure the other half dozen or so people he encountered hadn't either.

While some, like myself, approached him directly, he sought others out. He invited people into his world, regardless of how many thousands of miles outside our stratosphere it is. Students, faculty, professors--no one was overlooked. I sat in my chair after speaking with him, smiling like a lunatic and trying to focus on my paper.

Though this man works inside the library in the technology department, I loved that he was not limited to the confines of the building's stucco walls. Even better, it doesn't seem like he's confined within our own atmosphere either.