I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I did, as I got to spend some quality time with my grandma, my younger brother, and a cousin.
I was thinking the other night about an experience I had a short time ago that I wondered if I should write about in this blog, because I initially dedicated this blog to just crossing off my bucket list, but really what is this blog supposed to be about, anyway? Like, hello, silly me! It’s not just about crossing off my bucket list. It’s about holding onto precious memories that are beautiful, and unique in their own way, and preserving these memories regardless of whether they are planned or they just simply sneak up on you. So, with that said, I’d like to share a unique stargazing experience that crept up on me in the most unexpected way.
Imagine this: You’re spending some quality time with your grandma, uncle, and your uncle’s fiance by enjoying an after-dinner treat of ice cream at your local ice cream shop on a beautiful late summer/early autumn evening. Afterwards, with your grandma and soon-to-be aunt-in-law taking their own car back to your uncle and his future wife’s house, your uncle takes you for a drive in his Mazda convertible with the top down. It’s been years since you’ve last been in a convertible as a passenger with the top down at night, 8 years to be exact actually, so you know you’re going to enjoy the drive in the passenger seat. So, now you and your uncle are driving along, all kinds of rock music is blasting out of the stereo on a radio station with a nice breeze wildly playing with your hair, and naturally your right arm is reached far outside of the car, moving gracefully and in sync with the groovy beats. Then, in a sigh of total relaxation, you look up at the seemingly timeless cosmos before you.
The sky is clear, there isn’t a single cloud in sight, and the moon is somewhere behind you, so it’s happily missing from your panoramic view of the gorgeous starry night. In fact, you reach a point where there’s absolutely nothing in your view, except for the stars. There are no tree lines, no street lamps, no stoplights, no houses, nothing. You know they periodically pop up, because of the route you’re taking to your uncle’s house, but you get the idea. Because these things feel like they are few and far between, it literally feels like it is just you and the cosmos. Also, because you’re moving in a vehicle (driven by your uncle, of course, not you), and with street lamps, stoplights, and trees not present in certain gaps of your route, you felt like you’re not on earth anymore.
Despite the music blasting before you in the car, it surprisingly turned into background noise, like white noise, so it’s easy to tune the music out for a few moments, even though your right hand and arm still move to the beats as if they have a mind of their own. The continuous and fluid motions of your arm and hand don’t seem to faze you, because you don’t have a care in the world in this moment. It’s just you and the cosmos. They are endless in every which direction. They are so far away, yet so close you can feel it, you can almost taste it!
Compared to the vastness of space, you feel so tiny and insignificant, yet … you feel so connected. You feel a sense of stillness in this special moment that is shared between you and the universe. You feel you’re not of this world anymore, like you’re floating in space, or like you’re flying in a single spacecraft with no shield. You feel peace from the deepest parts within and you smile, because you have never felt more alive. And just when you felt concerned that this feeling is getting to be a tad bit too much, a tree (or tree line), house, or a stop at a red light or stop sign brings you back, instantly grounding you back on this magnificent planet you call home.
You’re relieved, but still excited, and you want to feel connected again, which you do when the car moves along once more, and then the trees, houses, etc. simply disappear once again from view … that is until the drive ends. You still kept your eyes in the sky throughout the drive, though, because you loved the humbleness it brought you, the peace, the quiet, the stillness. You’re thankful for being part of this universe. Yet you’re thankful for being part of this world. Imagine all this and now you know what it was like for me that one special Saturday night on September 22nd, 2018. These moments sure took me by total surprise.
I have always wanted to go to space. I’ve always wanted to go to the moon, or to Mars, and look back on this beautiful blue ball of a planet, my home, but I know it’s not possible at this point in time, so I never even bothered to put it on my bucket list. This was still such a unique and amazing feeling, though, because it is as close to an out-of-this world experience that I will ever get. I’ll never, ever forget this drive with my uncle. Ever.
(I thought it would be a nice touch to add a starry night photo to this blog post since I don’t have one for the night of the experience I’m about to share, but after seeing this photo taken by Jakub Gorajek at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, I now kind of want to create a new destination list specifically designed for parts of the world where I could see the beautiful stars in all their truly magnificent glory.)