Top (picture): Image designed for the Cosmos eBook. The image depicts a developing human embryo in shades of blue and white. At the foot of the image, in white font, the word 'Cosmos' appears and just below it, my name and surname in yellow font.
WELCOME! Before you start the journey into the world of Cosmos, I think it’s important for me to provide you with some background to its creation. Cosmos deals with Namuh, a character I invented when studying for my A-Levels. Namuh lives in a strange world where new things are constantly emerging in the space of the ‘cosmos'.
I wrote this book between 1998 and 1999 . That's right, more than 10 years have already passed since then! When I wrote Cosmos, I was a youth filled with an urge to express myself through writing. This hasn't really changed that much. But then, I was also very idealistic and perhaps naive in my approach to life. Despite those facts, many of the principles found in Coemore than smos and in Namuh’s account are still values and principles I hold dear to this day. In this sense, Namuh’s story is really my own story as a teenager moving into adulthood. But more than that, Namuh represents my own struggles to understand myself and to discover my position in the universe as I sometimes felt like an outsider.
I cannot say that my childhood was very different than that of my peers. Indeed, I can say that I had a good number of friends, a supportive family and liked to meet new people. On the other hand, I spent a lot of my childhood at home on my own (due to many factors) which gave me a chance to think and reflect. Apart from the popular TV programmes I used to follow like any youth living in the late nineties, I was struggling with difficult questions about my own existence and about the meaning of life.
Although I attempted to find answers to my questions in books and articles, I only felt satisfied for a short while with these 'explanations'. However, the moment I became more aware of my deep need for meaning was when I found myself on the verge of dying after a serious medical complication in 1998. As I was being treated I had to spend a relatively long period in hospital which forced me to take a good look at my life. Back then, I often thought about the possibility of death.
Admittedly, I was concerned about my own mortality when I was very young. In fact, one of my brothers, David, had died only a few months after my birth. This piece of information prompted me to reflect on the precious gift of life and on our essential fragility and insignificance as human beings. To be sure, my brush with death brought back to light many of my early worries.
The questions that plagued me then couldn't be avoided any longer. Is there meaning in my life? Is there life after death? What is the value of life? Does God exist? And if yes, why? Of course, I had asked such questions before as I was growing up. As a child, I would often wonder why I had a physical impairment, which at the time, was a source of shame and guilt to me. What was the point of my life? Did it really matter?
And why did some people view me as not fully human or as an equal? Yes, I did blame my impairment then. I believed that it caused people to reject me or to make wrong assumptions about who I was because I was somehow different. Some pitied me, others thought me brave and even saintly!
When the only thing I wanted was to be judged for who I really was and not simply as a product of my impairment. I was no saint, no helpless boy, and no message from God! Even if, at times, some of these labels seemed appealing. Yet, I wanted to reclaim the right to define my own self, free from an imposed identity and history. And so, through Namuh's voice, I tried to emphasize my claim to humanity.
Undeniably, many things have changed in my life since the time I finished the first draft of Cosmos back in 1998. Since then, I have gained more experience and greater knowledge of life. In addition, I believe to have acquired new skills and, hopefully, I trust that I matured in many ways as well.
Then, why revisit the world of Cosmos now? After all, I have published this book as an electronic text already. Yet, I feel that it’s time to read it carefully again because I think that I need to look back at my past to understand the present. I am not sure whether the voice of Namuh will touch on the topic of disability, or whether I will see parts of who I am today in Namuh. Indeed, the time from which Namuh speaks was one characterised by uncertainty on one hand and hope in life’s possibilities on the other. It was the time of confused youth in need for security and direction.
And it may be hard to believe but I don’t like to read my own work. Not that this particular piece will remind me that I am getting older but I guess it’s because I fear re-awakening the demons of the past. But it’s now time to go back to Namuh’s cosmos. And, yes, I have decided to share Namuh’s account with more people this time round through Cosmos Online. After all, this is what the younger Gordon would have wanted when ‘he’ wrote it. I’m aware that your trip and mine will be different in many ways. Indeed, the words I wrote then would have meant different things to the 18 year old writing them. And I expect you to experience your own version of Namuh’s world.
To be honest, I am also undertaking this voyage for myself. You, as a reader, may find the story enjoyable, informative or even inspiring. Some may find it boring or uninteresting. But, at the end of the day, I believe that it’s of some value to me at least. And even if these will be just pixels on a screen or characters on a page or whatever, I have taken months to finish writing Cosmos in my youth – so I suppose I had something to say then to others. And to myself.
I hope you enjoy reading this book and leave with something of value.
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