I can lose myself, staring at the stars. And find my way, too.
I can recall with painful clarity a dark summer night a few years ago, lying on my back at a campsite, staring at the Milky Way. Satellites shot by as I watched, unblinking. Everyone else was in tents, sleeping. I was looking to the heavens and grieving a loss.
I had no strategy. I hadn’t decided this was the way to deal with troubles. It just felt right to lose myself in the blackness and points of light. Perhaps part of my brain knew it was a way to make my problems seem small, compared to the grandeur and scale of the universe.
I can’t remember how long I lay there, thinking. I remember being cold but not caring. I remember hearing feet approaching and reluctantly breaking my staring contest with infinity. Bringing my eyes back to earth I spotted the source of the footsteps; a fox, who froze and locked eyes with me momentarily, before skittering off into the bush.
Last year, I wanted to paddle to the stars. I tried to organize what I hoped would become an annual canoe trip during the Perseid meteor shower. There were clouds and complications. The trip didn’t happen.
I hung on to the idea however. Something about it appealed to me. Perhaps it was the notion of an annual tradition, a date to look forward to every year (the Perseid meteor shower always returns in mid-August).
This year, I cast aside the canoe connection (sort of) and convinced a friend to invite me to a cottage on a very quiet lake.
The Saturday was dismal. The clouds conspired to ruin the show.
Sunday was past the peak but promising.
The day started with a magical sunrise. I paddled through the morning mist knowing the forecast for that night was in our favor.
That night, were were treated to an amazing show. The streaks in the sky were many and bright, the best, my friend said, he had ever seen from his cottage.
I had the familiar, humbling sensation of feeling small compared to everything above me.
Gratitude was the emotion in play that night. For I knew I was lucky to have many things in my life, including a pal willing to accommodate my wishes.
Nature was kind too. It wasn’t just the clear black sky that created the sense of serenity.
To my delight, there were more meteors than mosquitoes. I wouldn't mind if that became a tradition too.
You may have to look carefully, but there is a meteor in the shot below.
"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
- novelist and poet Cesare Pavese