I know it’s cliche and trite and a general faux pas to think the universe cares about you, and I’m keenly aware of the irony of this statement, but I swear the universe wanted me to fall in love with the stars.
For as long as I can remember I have been terrified of outer space. Some of my earliest memories are of camping under the stars and having to look away because the gravity of small size was too much for my five year old self to handle. Until a few years ago I had never been a star gazer, or understood any romantic celestial poems. I was thoroughly content to go through my day with my eyes looking outward- never up. The minute the sun set I would stay inside and try to avoid that sinking feeling that inevitably accompanied a glance at the night sky. If you asked me about this I would obfuscate with some sort of answer about how Mufasa from Lion King traumatized the stars for me, but in all honesty it was firmly rooted in selfishness. The stars symbolized the fact that I wouldn’t always be alive, and I didn’t want to admit that.
Recently though I’ve come to firmly believe that an essential part of a happy human existence is consciously contributing to the grandeur of history, even in light of our mortality. Taking that sinking feeling of, “Oh gosh I am so small,” that I got as a five year old and running with it. Not refusing to engage with that emotion, or wallowing in existential crisis land but letting it make you into a better person and artist.
One night a few years ago I read this quote by Jim Elliot “Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore delicacies whose finger ends set them to burning.” How beautiful right? His focus wasn’t on what the stars would do for him, but on the future generation and years to come. This set me on this journey of viewing the night sky not as a token of my fragility or something that would give me a bunch of beautiful revelations and guidance, but as a sort of connection to the past. Suddenly all these poems and quotes and books and songs about stars came hurling at me, forcing me to think and care.
“Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”
“There’s a whisper on the night wind/There’s a star agleam to guide us/And the wild is calling, calling, let us go.”
“The stars are mansions built by Nature’s hand/And, haply, there the spirits of the blest/ Dwell, clothed in radiance, their immortal vest”
I started to realize that some of these authors and artists lived hundreds of years before me and were looking at the same sky as I was. And I exist in this world, for this short amount of time, with all this beautiful art that was gleaned from people looking up and creating from that gut wrenching feeling of fragility. So who am I to think that my sadness in the face of mortality deserves to be mourned exclusive from those who came before me? That I somehow exempt from the pages of history because I am living now? I am going to be a part of history, so I want to make things for other people who will come after me.
So it may seem counterintuitive or childish to think the universe cares about my relationship to the night sky, but believing that makes me want to look up. And looking up makes me want to look back. And looking back makes me create. And creating makes other people look up.