Star Gazing

It was a warm spring evening. After dinner from the grill, I sat out on the deck as the evening grew dark. Leaning back in my chair, with feet propped up on another chair, I watched as the moon rose and the stars first appeared. Scanning the night sky, I looked for familiar stars. A smile came to my face when I spotted my favorite: Orion’s belt. I cocked my head to one side to view the three luminaries in a way that made them line-up horizontally from my point of view. For perhaps an hour, I sat silently in the growing darkness and appreciated the heavenly lights.

There’s something about star gazing that’s always captivated me. To be honest, I know very little about astronomy. While I do own a telescope, it’s old and not very good. I rarely use it. Instead, I prefer to sit and gaze at the night sky and allow myself to take in what I can see.

Much like walking the beach and looking out over the ocean to the horizon, watching the night sky and gazing on the stars is an activity that gives me perspective about life. In my day-to-day life, I often take details far too seriously. It’s easy to get caught up in responsibilities while trying to assure myself that each thing is done as it should be. All of those things fall away when I look at stars in the night sky. I realize again how small my world really is in comparison to the expanse of the universe.

Just think: young stars are those whose ages are counted in millions of years. In contrast, our shining light, the Sun, is middle-aged: it’s about 4 ½ billion years old and expected to shine another 5 billion years. And here am I, in my fifth decade of life: what is that in comparison to these cosmic lights?

Most of us spend a great deal of time caught up in the details of life: finance and economics, tensions in relationships, political agendas of various sorts, and preoccupations about how others view us. When compared with the expanse of twinkling lights in the night sky, how much does any of it matter?

It’s a simple lesson, conveyed by wise people of the ages: what matters most is the way we embrace each day and live it to the fullest. Our concerns and worries don’t add a day to the span of our lives, which are quite short indeed. Gazing at stars at night brings me back to this realization. I am reminded that what’s most important is to live fully, to love deeply, and to embrace the experience of each day with gratitude for what life brings my way.

As simple or as trite as it may seem, perhaps you can join me from wherever you are and gaze upon a star or two some night soon. Keep a quiet vigil long enough for the cares and worries of life to pass away. My hope is that you’ll find the experience as renewing for you as it is for me.

© 2013, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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