The problem with outer space is that I have trouble wrapping my head around that kind of scale. I can barely fathom the depth of this planet’s oceans, let alone the size of our sun, and yet people tell me there are stars many times larger than that ours, that there are black holes many times larger than those, and that a single galaxy can encompass millions of each. My sense of scale fizzles out into meaninglessness when I really try to wrap my head around that. It is all too vast for me.
If it’s an overstatement, then, to compare that scale to our possibilities for intimacy, happiness, and affirmation of worth, then let it be an overstatement. I need more people to say it like this. I need that message out there, more ardent and more often, that there are galaxies full of star systems of ways to relate, interact, and bond with other people. Sex? Is just one planet, maybe two or three.
I’ve often been frustrated with sci-fi’s limited biodiversity and its tendency toward monobiome planets, when a biologist could tell you that our one small earth is a home to a staggaring number and range of forms of life and there are so many, so many, so many things here alone.
And that’s what I mean about our sense of scale, that something can be enormous in variety yet still be dwarfed. I am not minimizing sex and what it can be by describing it as less than a solar system. I am not minimizing how much there is to the world of sexuality that can be explored. It’s a lot. And yet a galaxy is bigger.
I want more insistence to that effect, in every way. I want to hear that more and know it’s sincere. I want everyone to hear that on the regular and to know they are not limited. I want a culture that welcomes exploration of the full breadth available to us, that does not prescribe where we visit and where we settle. I want to grasp that sense of scale and I want my friends to, too, and I want no one to go to sleep without a scrap of it. When someone goes out at night, someplace far from the light pollution of the city, out on the dark of the remote wilderness, and looks up and sees a sky full of stars — that sight reflects only a pinprick of the why and the how of it all. Just because a person cannot name them all, and does not know each and every one, does not mean those stars are not out there. Just because most of us will never leave this physical planet in our lives does not mean that we were only meant to see one solar system in the galaxies of hearts.
And that’s hard to trust, on its own. It’s more natural for my own brain and others like it to only accommodate a sense of scale for the amount that we can see around us. I think for a lot of sighted people it’s that way. Beyond that, beyond these immediate surroundings, it’s hard to keep holding onto, as the imagination recedes further and further in scale. Which is why it matters so much what we put before us — and what is put before us. You don’t need an astronomer, just an artist, to tell you that some things will seem larger depending on where you’re standing. Sometimes, because of that, the smaller things can seem to block out the larger things, to the point that you can’t see the larger things at all. An eclipse is merely a matter of perspective.