Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Starry Night

Have you looked at the stars recently?  I mean really looked at them.  The kind where you step outside the city lights, away from the light pollution, away from the urban hustle and bustle, and stare into the heavens.  It is majestic.  If you haven’t done it recently, I suggest you create some time in your schedule to do so, even it it means just driving until you can’t see the obscene glow of a nearby metropolis creeping over the horizon.
I had the opportunity to bare witness to the sky over the recent holiday break and I have to admit, I had forgotten about the natural beauty constantly hanging over our heads, hidden behind the sheen of electrical progress.  I stood there, draped in the cloth of night, gazing at the unfamiliar stars whose names I had once known.  I could make out the constellations I faintly remembered, find the unblinking planets whose names I knew but locations I didn’t, and spot the faint glow of the Milky Way constellation floating across the dark night.
It was beautiful.  And the sad part - I was still not nearly far enough from civilization to taste all of the beauty the night sky has to offer.
As more and more of our population flocks to city life, we increasingly lose touch with our place in the universe - I know I had.  Ancient man constantly knew his seeming insignificance.  Overhead, placed by unknown forces, the glowing embers burned through the dark of night.  While looking up at the multitude, our ancestors couldn’t help knowing haw small they were.  As the universe is blocked from view by the glow of cities, we observe less and less stars, forgetting where we are.
As I stood looking upwards, I realized how tiny we are, our insignificance in this world.  I am only one person in seven billion living on this planet.  Humans are only one species out of millions.  How many planets hide in the billions of undiscovered solar systems belonging to uncounted galaxies.  Our average life span only counts for .00000002125% of the Earth’s total existence.  The Earth has only been around for a quarter of the time the Universe has existed.
How small are we?  How infinitesimal?  How unimportant?
It would be very easy to sit back, overwhelmed by the sheer weight of imagining the immensity of the universe, but doing so would be unnecessary and unwise.  As tiny as we are, as simple and small our impact on this Universe might be, we still mean something.  We play a part in the grand drama simply by existing.  
Naturally, we might feel lost looking up at the glowing tapestry of stars, but our influence is definitely worth something.  Imagine this world if our heroes had looked up at the stars and decided to do nothing, choosing insignificance when faced with the overwhelming reality of the universe.  We face the same choice every day.  Our actions determine whether or not we choose insignificance or importance.
Staring up at the stars on an early winter night, I felt unburdened by their presence.  Looking billions of years into the past proved to me that we are part of something greater; each of us plays a part.  No matter your beliefs, there is no denying the beauty of this Universe we call home.  Take a trip.  Look up.  See into your own heart.  You might be surprised to find billions of lights shining back at you.


  1. I'm with you on that. Having been a short distance away from greater Houston didn't hold a lick to the sky over the Big Bend area. So many more stars, planets less obscured by the man made light fixtures, a stary meteor coasting lightly across the background firmament. Definitely a reality check from the myopia we surround ourselves daily and the disconnect we socially force upon ourselves. Remembering to take a retreat and step back to reassess where we are going needs to be put on the bucket list.