Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Little Celestial Guidance

Right before Mary began college, we were out at Clover Slope for a final hurrah. It was prime time for the Perseid Meteor Shower, so in the middle of the night, Mary and I took beach towels down to the dock to see what we could see.  The view straight up was great, being at the edge of the lake. Before long we began to see shooting stars. It was very gratifying and I was satisfied, but Mary wanted to stay longer.  I am glad we did. A most spectacular meteor streaked the sky.  It was huge and scarily bright.  Looking back, I realize that this meteor foretold that the next four years would be brilliant and fleeting.

     I doubt that meteoric vision will be topped. My experience with Perseids has been spotty since then.  This year, I was actually up early (the best time for viewing is right before dawn) as Mary was flying to Chicago to apply for a visa to work in France this coming academic year.  The moon was waxing and fairly bright, and I was in the backyard in Lexington.  I could just barely see any stars, and I did not see and shooting ones.

     Last year during Perseid season, Mary had already headed back to Houston because she was the president of her residential college and would be helping to greet incoming Freshmen for orientation.  I was out at Clover Slope alone and was not as motivated to get up and get out to experience the greater universe. Finally, I did get roust myself out of bed, put on clogs and a robe and went outside. Just outside the doors, on the deck (I was being a scaredy cat) I could see stars fairly clearly, so I craned my neck for about 10 minutes and saw nothing but twinkling stars.  I was thinking about heading back inside. However, as I had made the effort to get up I decided it was worth it to walk a few steps off of the deck. I am not sure what made the huge difference: was it simply the view or the change in light from security lamps, or just chance? When I looked up from this slightly different vantage point, I saw three meteors in just a few minutes.  Here is what I learned from this.  No. 1: Take the next little step and be rewarded.  No. 2: It doesn't take much and it is not that hard. No. 3: Don't be afraid.

     Fortunately, I wrote this down, or else I would not have remembered it. Last night, I could not sleep and I was worrying about all the things one worries about in the middle of the night.  I happened to read what I had written a year ago. It was just what I needed to see. What I learned a year ago is not terribly profound or new. It is simply true. I learned it after the fact, not before. So often, we think we need to make dramatic changes or we are paralyzed with fear. It turns out, that the solution is much smaller than we think and not very scary; not even difficult.  And the results are beautiful!

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