What to do with a Black Hole?

I’m not really in the loop, any loop, but especially not the American pop culture loop. So it’s no surprise that I had no idea what Black Friday was when it popped up all over the place this week. I thought I’d missed something. But no, it’s only Australia falling further under America’s cultural shadow. For those of you who don’t know what Black Friday is, though usually I’m the last to know so you probably do already know, Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving when everyone in America goes shopping.

But NASA has turned Black Friday into something much more exciting, Black Holes Friday. You can check it out on Instagram, FB, or Twitter if you don’t follow NASA already. #BlackHoleFriday. Treat yourself.

It got me thinking about black holes generally.

Not the black holes out in the universe but all the black holes closer to home. The first black hole off the launch pad is the one NASA is poking a finger at, the black hole of consumerism. Consuming consumes us. Tyler Durden nails it in Fight Club, “We buy shit we don’t need with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like”. Consuming is one of the biggest black holes, sucking us into it, especially over Christmas.

Then I got thinking about other black holes, like psychological and emotional black holes.

But first I should define a black hole. My research started and ended with NASA on Instagram, so I’m not claiming to be an expert.

Here’s what NASA says:

A black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape. The strong gravity occurs because matter has been pressed into a tiny space. This compression can take place at the end of a star’s life. Some black holes are a result of dying stars.

Because no light can escape, black holes are invisible. However, space telescopes with special instruments can help find black holes. They can observe the behaviour of material and stars that are very close to black holes.

In other words you can’t see a black hole but you know it’s there because of the behaviour surrounding it, and it sucks everything into it. Fear and hatred are perfect examples of this kind of black hole. You can make your own connections.

A black hole pulls matter from whatever is around it. … Spotting black holes is tricky because they don’t give off light… it’s hard to pinpoint them. But when a black hole gets close enough to an object, like a star, for example, and begins consuming the object’s mass, the matter that pours into its gravitational clutches can get so hot that it glows and releases energy in the form of X-ray light. (How cool is that!) The most powerful X-rays are emitted from the hottest material swirling just outside the edge of the black hole. By observing this light with space telescopes, scientists can determine where black holes are hiding in the cosmos.

This is like the black hole of addiction that can devour the whole psyche. Addiction-black holes can be hard to spot unless something activates them, then they suck everything in.

They are always lurking, like the urge to do that thing we are addicted to, though sometimes they lie quietly, like a crouching cat watching a bird. But when the addiction is in full swing it’s like swirling heat, and takes the person over completely. The pull of an addiction is so powerful it can overtake everything within its reach.

And don’t be fooled by size. Black holes can hide in the smallest galaxies. A small galaxy can hide a supermassive black hole…. Astronomers using data from our Hubble Space Telescope have found this unlikely object in an improbably place — a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known. It’s likely that there are many other compact galaxies in the universe that contain supermassive black holes.

In other words it’s likely that most people (with whole galaxies inside them) have black holes hidden away. These are secret psychological black holes that consume a lot of energy but give off no light and can’t be seen by the naked eye.

It reminds me of the impact of traumatic and overwhelming experiences, and all the sorrows and griefs that people suffer, that imprint the psyche then lie buried. When something comes too close, hitting the edge of the black hole (triggers), it lights up, heats up, and consumes everything including the host galaxy, aka person.

A black hole is a massive object whose gravitational field is so intense that no light (electromagnetic radiation) can escape it. When two orbiting black holes merge, a massive amount of energy is released in the form of jets. Meanwhile, the movement of these massive bodies disturbs the fabric of space-time around them, sending ripples of gravitational waves radiating outward. These waves are predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but have yet to be directly detected.

Depression is one of the biggest black holes you can encounter. It turns the world black. You can lose sight of anything good when this black hole swirls through your life, sucking all the joy from it.

Grief is in there too, and shame and unworthiness. Fear I’ve mentioned, in all its guises, anger in every shade from rage to irritability. Judgement and criticism can be black holes, as can perfectionism.

Past and future can become black holes when we are consumed with regret over the past, or wishing and hoping for something in the future. Anything that consumes the now, can turn into a black hole sucking our life away, eating the life-blood of the present. Technology is fast becoming the biggest collective black hole, sucking us in, consuming our daily existence.

I could go on about black holes and the psyche but I think you get my drift.

Over the years I’ve had a lot of black holes, all the ones above and more, that’s how I know they can consume you, suck the life out of you and leave you blackened and empty.

Do you have a black hole?

If you do, what can you do about it?

The first thing is to recognise it’s there, hidden, lurking, waiting. You can only find it by seeing how it impacts everything around it. If you go looking for it you may look right through it, that’s the paradox of black holes.

What to do next? I’m making this up as I go along trying to see what happened to all my black holes that seem to have diminished or disappeared, at least for the moment. To be honest I don’t know how it happened. But here’s what comes to mind.

Once you identify a black hole (and that’s the hardest part) accept that you will be sucked in again and again, and again. Don’t struggle against it, but don’t just give into it either.

What you need is a long-line in – and out again, or through to the other side. And what is on the other side of a black hole? Well that’s anyone’s guess. I’m guessing it’s all the light that got sucked in, like the gold within the shadow that Jung describes. And yes, a black hole is like your Shadow.

What constitutes a long-line then? Good question. I’ll have to think about that.

In the meantime tread gently as you wander through your inner galaxy. It’s like a minefield of black holes in there. Know that there are things in there as wild as anything NASA has spotted out amongst the spheres. Your psyche is wild and unchartered, and probably bursting with black holes as well as glorious bright stars, too bright to look upon.

Let the shining grow so large that when you trip over one of those black holes as you go about your business there is so much light that you can walk right through on your long-line to freedom.

Yes I know, that sounds a bit cosmic and open ended but that’s another thing about black holes they are a mystery. You can’t control them, they’re a bit unpredictable, but they don’t really go away, so it’s best to leave things open ended – a work in progress, like a great work of art.

A work of art, like the psyche, may begin as something ugly, incomprehensible – and believe me I know, because I’ve made a lot of ugly art. But you keep working away at it until something new and bright emerges, and you glimpse the possibility of something lovely skipping through. That’s the best you can do with the human psyche, your inner galaxy, watch and learn, and grow another star, or something lovely, to take the place of that old black hole.

Now I’ve just had a new thought. I wonder if it’s possible to ride black holes. To harness their energy and ride them into the wild blue yonder of my becoming. Now that would knock NASA’s galactic socks off!


And a bit more from NASA, bringing us a galaxy near you – thanks NASA.

Double Black Hole Doorbuster! Astronomers using our Hubble Space Telescope have found that Markarian 231, the nearest galaxy to Earth that hosts a quasar, is powered by two central black holes furiously whirling about each other.

Like a pair of whirling skaters, the black-hole duo generates tremendous amounts of energy that makes the core of the host galaxy outshine the glow of its population of billions of stars, which scientists then identify as quasars.

On March 28, 2011, NASA’s Swift detected intense X-ray flares thought to be caused by a black hole devouring a star. In one model, illustrated here, a sun-like star on an eccentric orbit plunges too close to its galaxy’s central black hole. About half of the star’s mass feeds an accretion disk around the black hole, which in turn powers a particle jet that beams radiation toward Earth.

A black hole discovered in July 2015 grew much more quickly than its host galaxy. The discovery calls into question previous assumptions on the development of galaxies.

Image taken in Armidale, July 2015.

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