One of my favorite things is looking at the stars, especially in areas with low levels of light pollution.
When I lived in Jamaica, my grandparents still had an exposed balcony (we installed railings when my grandmother developed dementia). I would sometimes sit on the balcony, long after my grandparents had gone to bed. Their windy country roads would be quiet and I’d listen to frogs and crickets as the moon and stars inched across the sky.
Erykah Badu’s song “Orange Moon” captures the mood quite well: there’s just something about taking in our thin slice of space that fills me with wonder, imagination, and no small serving of nostalgia.
So I laughed tonight when I read a meme from a friend:
When you wish upon a star, you’re a few million light years late. That star is dead. Just like your dreams.”
The stars I notice when I melt into awe are no longer where I think they are. They’ve moved, most of them. Some of them are now dust and black holes, and they’re visible to me only because they once shimmered brightly right before collapsing.
Theologian Rita Nakashima Brock writes, “If we base an entire theological system either on a human longing for an unreal past or in hierarchical authority, we have a system based in nostalgia… A nostalgic system prevents honesty.”
Arthur C. Clarke’s story “The Star” (1954) is one of the most haunting pieces of fiction I’ve read in my life, and it hinges on the horror of how much time and distance distort each other and skew the stories we craft to ease our discomfort with what’s physically or chronologically distant from us.
Read it now if you never have, and do everything you can to hold a healthier relationship to the past.