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Blue Planet Perspective

I was sitting in my wheelchair outside the Humanities Building, holding a wheelie and enjoying a smoke, when a girl came trotting toward the building with her text book over her head to protect her hair from getting wet. As she approached me, she smiled and exclaimed about how nasty the weather was. I smiled back and let my wheelie down to talk to her, seeing as she'd stopped beside me instead of going into the building.

"Yes, it's really a messy day, isn't it?", I agreed. I took another look at her, this time into her eyes, to see if the true intelligence within her was ready to speak to me. I decided that it was. So, I began our conversation. "But, you know what this rain really is, don't you?", I asked quite sincerely. I noticed her repeat my attempt to see if I may be having her on, joking with her perhaps and looking into my own eyes. She came to her decision.

"No, what is it really?", she asked just as sincerely. "It's wet, it's cold and makes driving around here a lot more dangerous. It completely ruins my hair so that I look more like a drowned cat than anything else." We both laughed at that. "Why, what is it to you?"

"It's life to me", I said as I gazed through the drops outward into the field of grass between the Humanities Building and the Library. I looked at her face again, with her mascara beginning to ooze slightly on her lower eye lashes. It didn't make her look funny, or odd, it made her somehow more human to me, more real. She had a curious expression on her face, as if to say, 'Huh?'

"Yes", I repeated, "it's life. Have you ever seen our planet from space or from low Earth orbit, like when the shuttle is recording it overhead? In all the dark reaches of space, among all the other planets in our own little solar system, what makes our little planet so unique, so different, so beautiful?", I asked. I could tell she was thinking about it. It was wonderful to see her thinking about it.

I don't know", she said, still thinking, "we're the only planet with life on it, is that what you mean?" Her answer surprised me somewhat. She was absolutely correct, of course. And it was a direct answer to my, 'It means life' remark. I tried again, this time from a different angle.

Yes, that's true, but what distinguishes us from all the other planets? How can we tell we're looking at Earth instead of....let's say, Mars or Venus?" I was no longer gazing into the raindrops, but instead met her eyes directly as I asked. Again, I noticed her thinking and trying to arrive at the answer I was looking for. Now she was gazing out at the raindrops across the campus. I saw her eyes light up as she suddenly understood our strange conversation, my strange questions.

It's the clouds!", she said triumphantly, but as she watched my face closely, she knew it wasn't the exact answer I'd been seeking from her. I gave her another remark with sunshine in my eyes, this time.

You're so CLOSE!!!", I encouraged her that she was on the right track. But, I could tell that if she'd had a watch on her wrist, she'd be looking at it. Our conversation was almost over now. Her eyes lit up for the final time as she smiled in acknowledgment that I'd been digging for a particular answer and none other would do, I was being nit-picky, but she was still game, for she knew now.

It's Blue!", she said, knowing she was right on the mark this time. "It's blue and it's got clouds all over it!"

"And why is it blue and have clouds all over it?", I asked one final question. She'd about had it with me. I was once again, gazing out into the raindrops, so was she.

"Because it rains so much all the time!", and she smiled one last time at me as thunder softly boomed from many miles away. "Listen, it's been really nice talking to you, but I've got my psychology class in about two minutes. "You know something?", she asked as she opened the door to go in, "you've got a nice perspective on things, even rainy days like this", and was gone.

Glenn Judia © 9/18/97

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