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Thursday, January 5, 2012
Happy Birthday, Stephen Hawking!
God bless you, Stephen Hawking and welcome to your seventh decade. You are not only a genius with an insight into the cosmos that few could ever hope to achieve, but you have managed to cheat Lou Gehrig's Disease for decades, which is some kind of vicious, twisted endeavor in its own right. And I suppose that the "God bless you" part may come off as rather insincere, since neither you nor I believe in a God, benevolent, kind or otherwise that will lead us to the next level of existence. Indeed, we are united in our beliefs - right or wrong - that there is no Otherworldly Omniscient Being looking over our shoulder to judge whether we are worthy of heaven or sentenced to hell. Unless it's a visitor from outer space, and that's another issue altogether.
The fact that Stephen Hawking and I are unlikely brothers in our beliefs, both having the beautiful wisdom and insight to sort through the mortal views of life, death and the world after is only coincidental to our ability to comprehend the universe and its infinity. That's right - you and me Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in his twenties, which is little more than a short-sighted death sentence in most cases, and has lived through his sixties, which is nothing short of a miracle. He has dodged the Lou Gehrig bullet (at least as well as a man confined to a wheelchair and incapable of traditional human movement and communication is able) and moved ahead with his life, using computers to speak, interpret his facial tics and to convert those tics into recognizable thought.
God bless Stephen Hawking, for all it is worth, for his tenaciousness, wit and insight into the universe we inhabit. I prefer to link myself to Hawking in our religious outlook and view of the universe in order to elevate my own status in our shallow perceptions of the world. But in fact it is unlikely that any others of our generations, or those who have come before, have had the ability to decipher the universe and its endless mysteries as well as Stephen Hawking. The fact that he has done it with ALS is only more awe-inspiring.
My guess is that he has outsmarted Lou Gehrig's Disease. Afer all, if a world-class athlete such as Lou Gehrig and subsequent generations of sufferers have been unable to outlive its muscle-constricting death sentence and Hawking has not only done so, but taken his gradually-eroding muscular skeleton for granted in his quest for further understanding of the universe and its workings, I have no doubt that his uber-developed intellect and good humor has had a hand in the matter.
Happy birthday, Stephen Hawking - and if there is anything I can do beyond a brilliantly-executed full-salute and a blog that falls far short of expectations to help you ring in the new, please do not hesitate to let me know.