When I was young, the night sky was a miracle. Especially in the summer when I got to stay up a little later, and the darkness was more absolute. There was nothing better than lying out in the dark and gazing up in the sky, whether I was with friends or family or alone. It was beautiful at night, a different world, with a quiet that made it easy to hear yourself think under a sky that sparkled. It’s harder to experience that now. Light pollution. It’s interesting how our species consistently makes bad choices.
The night sky was different when I travelled to New Zealand. I didn’t expect that, despite Christchurch being on the opposite side of the world. It’s disconcerting to gaze out into the universe and not recognize what you see. It was a relief to find a constellation I recognized, though Orion’s orientation was not what I was used to.
When I was young, the night sky to be a thing of beauty, although my appreciation lacked depth. I didn’t know what I was seeing when I looked up into the night. I didn’t understand that the night sky is a portal to the past. I didn’t know that the stars I stared at in wonder had already faded from existence, millions of years before I was born. I didn’t realize that what I was looking at when I gazed up was nothing.
I didn’t think thoughts that hurt the brain when I was younger. It was beautiful when I looked up, and that was all I needed to know. Now I look up and see physics. I look up and see the universe. Sometimes, I even see God. It’s still beautiful. It’s also complicated.