It started with gasps. Muted cries gave way to outright wailing–not of agony, but of astonishment, ecstasy and rapture. Strangers hugged, while others got on their knees and–facing Mecca– paid homage. At that heralded moment, I knew that we would never forget. Surely, we would all gather on that date every year to remember the phenomenon that had changed our lives. Well, at least that was how I felt.

All of the elements converged in synergistic harmony–a visual chorus sung by the heavenly angels: earth, wind, water, and fire. Never before had the planet been witness to such a divine sunset–one that could only be taken in on a grander scale–at six 6-miles in the sky, a true revelation. From the northward windows of the westbound airplane, the dramatic panorama unfolded. To the north reached the fallen scepter of the gods–the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the earthen Sierra Nevada Mountains–orange diamonds, crowned by the opal of Lake Tahoe. The mountains' eastern flank buttressed a burgeoning cloud that flowed with the western wind in unbroken, lavender waves to the eastern horizon. In pink blossoms, the cloud's swollen western edge towered two miles vertically above the unyielding mountain chain. Beneath us, Yosemite Falls ushered the cloud's progeny into Yosemite Valley in a salmon dreamland. Across the verdant delta, the meandering curves of the Sacramento River carried the cargo to its final destination. The Pacific Ocean, waiting on the western horizon, spawned a translucent fog that washed the coast in an ethereal, orange glow. Rising skyward from the water nursery, resurrected clouds began their journey, striving to reach the fuchsia sun before it slipped over the western horizon.

"Yes!" An epiphany–the organisms, the earth, the solar system, and the galaxies–everything recycles as components of a universal whole. From organisms to elements, time breaks everything down to molecules, atoms and, ultimately, electrical charges. Subject to the constraints of Space, these building materials recycle over time in an inextricable marriage with no beginning or end. Just as one circumnavigating the earth never reaches the end, so too does the finite quantity of matter in the realm of Space.

As earth, wind, water, and fire, we, the westbound passengers, had all participated in similar dramas previously. In time, we would all contribute again. There was no doubt that this Zen realization must have come to everyone! I looked around in excitement. Most passengers were sleeping. Some idly thumbed through tabloids. Others languidly peered out the windows or gazed at their watches. How much longer would the trip take?

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