Chauncey Billings Senior is a self-made man; and by all accounts a successful one. In his youth his father always reminded him that theirs was a life of modest means. Chauncey Senior wasn’t at the top of his small public school, but by the time he was in college he had developed an unshakeable self-confidence, and knew he was destined for great things. Two of his fraternity brothers were drawn to his self-assured manner. It was their family connections that landed him his first and second positions out of school, positions that propelled him into his lucrative white-collar career. With every passing year, Chauncey Senior has only gained stature and wealth, and this, along with his beautiful family (and clean! Chauncey disapproves of soil under the nails and mussed hair), has brought him to a feeling of satisfaction with the incredible control that he exerts over the world around him.
There are, of course, obligations, and one Saturday Chauncey Senior finds himself dragged to some science fair…or was it a science festival?…that whips Chauncey Junior into a most distasteful excitement and enthusiasm (not to mention the mess). As Junior smears paint onto maggots with fascination, and then races the maggots across paper to create “art”, it all becomes too much for Chauncey Senior. He wanders away from his family distractedly, checking his smartphone.
“Interested in getting closer than you’ve ever been to the sun?”
Chauncey looks up from the ESPN app, and sees that the man asking him this question is wearing a pinstriped jacket. Chauncey approves of the man’s carefully pressed shirt, and pauses to somewhat begrudgingly peer through the telescope on display. He is shocked to see that, through the lens, the sun is far more detailed than just a bright yellow circle. The man in the shirt starts to try to tell him about it, but he can hear his wife calling angrily for him while Junior’s sister’s cry rises above the din.
The next morning brings a crisp, dry day with high clouds peppering the sky. On the 7th hole of the country club golf course, Chauncey is frustrated with how his game is going, and blames the passing shadows of the clouds. After a third off-shot he pauses for a moment before getting into his cart, and lets out a long sigh. His eyes wander skyward to those accursed clouds, and the experience of seeing the sun yesterday comes back to him with surprising emotion. It dawns on Chauncey in an overwhelming rush. The sun. The sky. The earth and moon and seas and nations and birds soaring and people everywhere. Chauncey becomes aware that his eyes are processing this light and his brain is processing that perception, and that he is a human being held to the verdant surface of a giant sphere rolling through space. For a moment it all is too much, and it all seems strangely connected.
“Huh,” thinks Chauncey, almost out loud. Then he wonders if he might be better off trying a 6-iron to start the next hole.