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Quarantine of the universe and the miracle of life

Stories and News No. 1196
A little fairy tale from the future waiting for the return to normality...

Once upon a time there was an earth, a different one, I admit it. I hope to live there, and then I write about it. Because telling stories helps me have faith in a better ending.
I will tell about this planet of a distant but possible future, using past tenses. It is much easier to me. Or, maybe, it helps me to convince myself that I have experienced this story firsthand. However, the earth was no longer just a planet. Like none of us is only a single human being.
In fact, as in a science fiction story that finally becomes a chapter of contemporary history, the world that hosted us was an active, aware and therefore dreamy part of something much bigger: the wonderful and undervalued universe.
“There is life out there”, stellar storytellers shouted long before. “We are not alone”, confirmed the investigators of still nameless galaxies, known as scientists.
Well, they were all right about the extraterrestrials. There were so many of them, spread among the myriads of celestial bodies beyond the earth orbit, that the list must be updated every hour. And it was a festive occasion, you know? Thanks to the words, which often hurt, but they can make us

happy too. The news is that we will no longer called them aliens or UFOs, moved by ancestral fears. Not allusively the others or those ones, neither suspiciously them. We just saw the tangible magic, having understood that it is the only thing to start from and to admire: someone call it life.
Therefore, they were all alive, as we are and will be. Living creature of the universe, all the best that unites us and makes us neighbors.
There were difficulties, obviously, this is undeniable. Sour conflicts and disagreements without logic, the worst ones; however, over time everyone came to a wiser vision. And eventually the living began to coexist cordially with each other.
Nonetheless, universal nature is no different from the earthly one, and hides pitfalls in the most ignored places; like the realm of the small, or microscopic. Yes, even beyond the borders of the Milky Way, the living were inclined to focus their gaze on the gigantic picture at the expense of the tiny details. Often, what happens in the short term sooner or later reproduces itself in the higher dimensions; and the consequences are equally impressive.
In fact, all of a sudden, from one light year to the other, the entire universe found itself facing the same old enemy that each species had fought individually: an unknown virus. An infection never seen before anywhere, exceptionally contagious and very lethal.
I will not mention what planet was hit by the virus for the first time, because this was information of little importance for the living, of the earth or not; unless it was useful to study the virus itself in order to create a vaccine. Maybe because the priorities of the inhabitants of the universe were different, or maybe because there were no borders and lines on the map; consequently, no nations or provinces, borders and walls, flags to wave and hymns to intone. Only life. Varied life, suddenly at risk.
The universal response was rapid and compact: lockdown of the planets and quarantine for all living beings, with all the necessary actions, such as the treatment of the sick, the containment of infections and the study of the virus itself.
Obviously, it is an experience already lived in the past by many species and many found themselves re-reading the chronicles of the time, in order to draw lessons from their respective ancestors.
In the meantime, as the days passed, in every corner of the universe we began to feel the lack of what was normal before the closure of our atmospheres. How to travel in space and meet different creatures, explore new places and discover culture and life that could not be imagined until then.
Thus, despite the consequence of an extraordinary constraint, on every planet the living found themselves re-tasting simple actions considered for granted.
For example, on Kepler-22b the inhabitants began to walk up and down the avenues of their cities, along streets never used before, and then to stop before glimpses that they ignored, despite were so near their houses.
On the planet Tau Ceti e the living start to touch with open and curious hands the nature surrounding their reclusive existences, from leaves to animals, from water to air, from their own kind to the soil itself. In other words, as if they were newly born infants.
On Gliese 682 c, since they were unable to mount on a spacecraft to explore the magnificent unknown beyond the sky, many began to invent stories of pure fantasy on the worlds they had not yet discovered. Then they told them to the others and the latter thought about, and then recycled the tales as their own; then the original authors got angry at first, but then they calmed down because they remembered that had stolen their stories too; but they had forgot it, because they were too happy at the thought of considering themselves those who had started the show. So, it all ended in colossal collective laughter.
Because nobody in the universe could claim to have started the spectacle of life and light, and it is a great fortune, if you think about it carefully.
What about our beloved earth? Well, we too ended up concentrating only on what our planet and our mere existence had to offer. Nothing less, nothing more. Of course, I am talking about trivial things, at the time of space travel, like drinking water from a fountain, resting on a lawn sheltered by a tree or remaining silent, lying on the beach, to listen to the sound of sea waves.
“It is a real prodigy to be able to enjoy all of that”, each creature of the universe thought at the same time. It is as much as wonderful to hope to do it again, sooner or later. Because being alive is a miracle.

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