Here is the speech I did for Mike at his wedding:
According to scientific estimates, the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Not only is it unfathomably old, it is incomprehensibly large with a 92 billion light year observable diameter. It is hard to see our place in such a seemingly infinite expanse of time and space. To make it easier to understand, scientists have sought to condense this time scale into something familiar, like a yearly calendar. One method that I’ve seen and liked is condensing this time into the span of a human life. On average, humans live about 80 years. That is, we travel around the sun 80 times. We’re traveling pretty quickly too! We’re going around the sun at about 18.5 miles per second. It is kind of crazy to think that by the time I am done with the speech, we will have traveled 5,550 miles. That means, by the time I am done, we could have traveled between Russia’s easternmost territories in the Kirill Islands near Japan to its western most by in Gdansk by Poland.
Once again, space and time are hard to imagine, but a human life span makes it more understandable. With that said, let’s suppose that the universe is a human. This human was born and will one day die. Now, to scale everything to human life, we have to think big. We count our years in terms of our voyage around the sun, but the sun itself makes a 230 million year revolution around the Milky Way. This trip is called a galactic year. So, I am going to count the years in galactic years, which are, well 230 million times greater than our human years. Okay, so if you are following me, the universe is currently 61 galactic years old. That is, our sun has revolved around the Milky Way 61 times. In our 61 galactic years of life, the earth was born when the universe was about 43 years old. So, the universe was pretty old by the time Earth was born, but hey, people are having children in the 40s much more often now. At about 46 years old, the first life appeared on earth. At about 54 years old, multicellular life appeared on earth. You can see that for much of the universe’s 61 years, Earth and life just weren’t around. About 12 months ago dinosaurs appeared, but they went extinct about 4 months ago. Humans didn’t even appear on the scene until 8 hours ago. 15 minutes ago writing was invented, which is helpful since I needed to write this speech out. One minute ago, modern science was invented, which is also pretty useful, since it has given me something to talk about. A whole human lifespan of about 80 years, is really only 10 seconds in galactic time. In galactic time, I have known Mike for less than a second and a half. And, if I was convert this speech from human time of 5 minutes to a galactic time of 5 min, 2000 human years would have passed. The point is not to remember all of this, but to realize that our lives are very small in the scale of the universe. We are alone and small in a universe that will one day end in a cataclysm of expansion and cold.
With that said, how do we survive existential depression? Many people have many ways of dealing with this problem, but something that has sustained humanity for centuries is connection. When we are barreling around the sun at 1,000 miles per minute, we need something to hold on to. We need family, friends, partners, comrades, and community. This is why we are here today. We are here for Mike and Sonia, to celebrate their commitment to one another and the idea that we should stand with one another. When we are sick, when society is sick, when we see people in need, we must stand together. We must stand for love and human connection. We must see the injuries to others as injuries to ourselves. We must work together to make our short existence in this world better. We must elevate each other and elevate this world above the problems that weigh us down and keep us apart. All we have are connections. All we have is this brief flash in the pan in a big, old indifferent universe. We have 10 short seconds to leave the world a better place and to make our mark in the history of time and space!
When I set out to write a speech, I wanted to write about the big picture. I wanted to write about love, but many kinds of love. While the wedding celebrates romantic love, it also celebrates the love of friends and family and community. That is what makes these kinds of events so astonishing. Never again will you be in this place… at this time…with these people. This place is alive with the love of the diverse people who have been a part of Mike and Sonia’s lives, many of whom may never meet again. Our only commonality is shared love and connection. I am deeply happy to count Mike as a friend. Friendship is precious. I hope Mike and Sonia the best in their future. I hope they are deeply happy. I hope that their connection and solidarity helps them tackle the challenges they face as individuals, but I also hope energizes them in their work to make the world a better place. Above all else, I hope they never again feel alone in the universe.