John Playfair said on witnessing geological formations that had clearly taken millions of years to come to their current state, "The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time." I stumbled on an article mentioning him talking about this (it's actually a good article) and it struck a chord with me about something I've been thinking about a lot recently: The Ping. The Ping is so named, not by me but a friend of mine (just recently, actually, when I had the pleasure of being put awash in her ideas and brilliance), as I was telling her about my hope that, in my lifetime, I will witness communication from aliens.
And I'm not under the impression that we'll be sitting here on Earth and suddenly be in some Snapchat exchange with folks from another star system (maybe our own sister: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/05/our-sun-has-a-sister/361962/), but I think there will be a moment that a structure of information will wash over earth, a wave finally coming along as an overly calm break, and we will see it's inherent structure and realize that there is a message within it. Nothing fancy. Just a Ping. And it will be hundreds of years before anything really comes of it.
But the abyss that will open with The Ping will be altering of our experience. It will expand our dimensionality of how we see the world; something 2D, now is 3D. Or maybe it's a little like western movie sets that all become real buildings. And as I spoke about this desire for The Ping I realized the emotional quality that existed in how I was speaking to my friend (and that her face looked far less emotionally engaged), and that my Ping, is maybe not all people's Ping. And I thought suddenly about how when some alien pokes us with an electromagnetic wave, not everyone will look skyward as one large group and all have a new sense of their humanity. I think I will. But probably a lot of people will use it as a way to deepen previous convictions; to show they were right about X, Y, and Z.
Most the time we are presented with new information our first response is to fold it into what we already know; to slightly augment, but mostly bolster what are the foundations of our truth. But The Ping is something that I think, for a moment, would pull me into a moment of reflection on the entirety of my truth. Like an accountant auditing a business, but instead of auditing finances, this would be an audit of truth. It doesn't mean everything is necessarily wrong, but there may be a lot of basics that have shifted in a subtle, but important, way.
The Ping is romantic -- I'm romantic -- and there are small Pings, too. It's any moment that speaks to a fluidity in things that we have almost allowed to completely harden; time, space, and belief. It speaks to essences, infinities, and scales where language fails. But I think it's good to be looking bright eyed and bushy tailed to the heavens every once in awhile to see if The Ping has made its entrance. It's an outlook on the world that I feel is better than the alternatives (like irony and cynicism).