Remember, when you were younger, all the times you would go outside at night, just to look up at the stars? Remember how happy it made you feel? Remember taking out a star chart, so you could find a constellation or a galaxy? Remember how cool it felt to know that, even if you couldn’t see the visible light from a Messier Object, you at least knew you were looking at it? Remember putting down a blanket and watching meteor showers all night long? Remember the first time you saw a satellite flare and convinced yourself you’d seen a flying saucer?
Remember how magical and humbling and inspiring it felt to just go outside specifically to look at the stars and planets, sometimes with a telescope, other times with binoculars, most times with just your eyes? Remember the first time you really thought about the reality of our existence? That we’re tiny little specks of life on an improbably perfect planet, speeding through space at incomprehensible speeds, protected by a thin layer of atmosphere from specks of dust and rock that are also speeding around in space, just like we are?
Does anyone else remember that? Or is it just me, getting older, rewatching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and desperately wanting to revisit a time when it didn’t seem like our improbably perfect planet was teetering on the brink of catastrophe?
When’s the last time you got away from your phone or tablet or TV or whatever, pulled your head out of the garbage fire we’re living in, and went outside, just to look at the stars, pick out some constellations, and feel the size and magnitude of our universe?
I can’t remember the last time I did. I can’t even tell you how long it’s been. That makes me feel profoundly sad.
So tonight, I’m going to do a some stargazing. If I’m lucky, I may even find what I’m looking for.