We didn’t duck because we didn’t believe. Then, the blast.
After the blast of an IED, soldiers say the one whose legs are ripped off may be the lucky one. The soldier still walking around, unscathed physically, without a gurney’s squeaking wheels chasing behind, will suffer from PTSD.
The blast wave affects the brain. Innards hang in the air. The wave reverberates off the walls around it and amplifies itself, which is why you’re more likely to be hurt seeking shelter in a corner. The after shocks are worse than the initial blast.
Shock waves are creatures. Silver bubble specters push through the back of you, penetrating every cell. What happens in that one thousandth of a second that the shock wave occupies your cells? Where do you go while it attempts to push you wide apart? Suspended. In limbo. Then it exits.
If you have endured generations of racism or sexism or classism or any other –ism maybe you weren’t traumatized by post-election shock waves either. Why would you be? It’s more of the same. It never really went away. BOOM.
The thing about shock waves is no one escapes, not the ones used to them and not the ones shocked.
The biggest shock waves in our universe are the result of supernovas. A star is born. It lives. It dies. If the star’s mass is big enough it explodes. BOOM.
We’re all fighting gravity from birth until death. In the vast darkness of our mother’s womb we begin when two cells fuse together. The star is born in the womb of the universe when two hydrogen atoms fuse together.
The star must continue fusing to resist gravity’s push to destroy it. To shine light is to fight. To fight is to live. Yet, gravity is not the enemy. Gravity is the midwife. She pulls swirling bits of dust and clouds together and summons it all into a spiraling fire. She forces new life out of the void. Postpartum, the midwife keeps on pushing. To resist, the star instantly becomes the ultimate alchemist. It burns its gases in order to live. The alchemist star fuses hydrogen and produces helium. When all the hydrogen is all burned out, it fuses helium and makes carbon and then oxygen and then sodium and magnesium and calcium and iron and on and on, providing the basis for life. You have to keep the alchemy going because if you don’t, you see, the gravity will crush you. You die.
Keep shining, star. For in your fight to exist, you give others light and life.
But when does that BOOM hit? When do we feel the shock waves?
There is a star known as the white dwarf. The white dwarf knows it’s dying. It knows that its whole way of life and structures that sustain it are crumbling. It has been fighting off the gravity and the grave, just like us. The white dwarf, out of gas to burn, in desperation, siphons the life-blood from another star nearby. The white dwarf sucks in more and more energy from this bound star. It can’t stop. It keeps going until finally its mass becomes greater and wealthier and more powerful and more. And MORE. And MORE. And MORE.
Until, finally, it explodes in a supernova.
There is another way to supernova. The massive alchemist can fuse on its own without siphoning from another. It gets more and more condensed. It burns through everything it has. It is reduced to its core. The truest core, nothing more. Then, it collapses in on itself. Supernova. BOOM.
This alchemist is not dispersed in its explosion. It has so much gravitas it creates its own black hole.
Are you scared of the black hole? Dive in. There lay the gateways to other universes, where the dreams you dream, and so much more, are realized.
Supernovas are the way of the universe. Why resist? The universe will have its way with you, with all of us, always.
Nova means new.
Shock waves birth new stars. Shock waves have birthed you. The elements of your body: oxygen, iron, carbon, all created through nuclear reactions and massive explosions. The shock waves gave you life. Yes, the very same shock waves that hold our organs in suspension and give us nightmares and PTSD and make our skin crawl.
So, let these shock waves suspend. Let gravity crush. After all, these are the tools of the great alchemist.