Tonight, I Looked Up at the Stars

For the past few decades, I’ve lived in areas where there was enough light pollution to effectively drown out the stars in the night sky. But last Fall, my wife, daughter, and I moved out to what is almost a rural township. There is an interstate about 3 miles away, and a main road about 5 miles south, but otherwise, no light to speak of at night.

Tonight, for the first time since we made that move. I went out on my back deck and just looked at the starts. There was no wind, no clouds, and the temperature was just between hot and cool. There was nothing to distract me from just looking and absorbing the night sky. There was also nothing to keep me from receiving the message it sent me.

I am really small. The anger I felt that I overcooked the burgers tonight is small. The dissatisfaction I feel with the email I saw come in from a big customer while I was on vacation is small. The past year has been small. There’s just so much out there going on. Each light is a hot, loud, reaction — a crashing together of elemental gasses. There is so much space between me and them. I know, with certainty, that I will never reach most of them. I will never know much about any of them. They outnumber me. They outnumber my worries, my fears, my angry rages. They will persist when I am gone. They will persist when the last person who remembers me is gone.

I won’t pretend to know what that means. There is no conclusion to draw from it — not yet, anyway. I just felt small in comparison. But for some reason, that felt comforting. I felt like nothing was that bad. I felt like the fact that I could just go and look at the starts tonight, then go back in my house and go to bed — that’s really great. On the timeline of history, I think not so many people have been able to just go out on their back deck, look at the starts for 5 minutes, and go back in, to the comfort of their soft bed. For those that can, try it some time. It’s pretty nice.

That’s all I’ve got.

Good night, cosmos.

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Author of “The Wabi-Sabi Way” and “Be, Think, Do”. Subscribe to my newsletter “Woolgathering”:

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