A constellation of worlds

I’m reposting this from Facebook, largely so that there’s at least something positive at the beginning phase of this blog! This was the post that brought a couple of my friends to suggest I should blog in the first place, and I hope you enjoy it too. I’ve added a couple of minor edits, but nothing more.

Every once in a while, you get to perceive your world in a different light. One of the rare moments of pleasure I’ve felt lately was about two weeks ago, when the moon was full and I was walking home from the nearby train station. Where I live is generally westwards from the station, and because it’s winter, the stars are out at this time of year when I’m walking home, usually just after 6pm. It’s a time when there are not many other people walking on the roads, and I can experience the world in a clean and uninterrupted way. As a short journey between one place and the next, it’s a liminal zone of sorts for me, where I tend not to be too focused on any one thing, and so my attention tends to wander as it will during those times, without turning inwards and sneaking into the undesirable thought patterns that characterise much of the rest of my conscious day.

What struck me on this particular night was that, as I was gazing into the evening sky, all five of the eye-visible planets, as well as the full moon, were above the horizon and stunning in their luminosity. Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury were low in the west, an elongated golden triad pointing downwards to the point where the sun had disappeared not long before; Mars and Saturn stood brightly alongside Antares, carnelian and topaz adorning the heart of Scorpius as it straddled the zenith. Suddenly it struck me out of the blue (well, out of the black, really) that if I were to describe this sky to someone else, nothing more than a slight shift of phrasing, and therefore perspective, could transform that night from a standard Earth night sky into the kind of fantastic and spectacular sky that one reads about in the introductory chapters of science fiction novels. As I realised that I was being bathed in the reflected light of a half-dozen different worlds, it gave me a feeling simultaneously of being unimaginably small – tiny, insignificant, and unimportant within the scope of the universe’s vastness – and of being an integral part, despite my infinitesimality, of that same incomprehensibly gigantic cosmos: a sensation of belonging to something, of comprising a part of that vastness, in a way that allowed me to partake of it and feel a fleeting but genuine importance as a component in the grand scheme of existence.

The thought is much easier to hold onto than is the feeling, of course. But it brought me pleasure, and a feeling of relevance, if only for a moment.

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