Friday, July 9, 2010
It makes me sad every time I think about the truth that there is a whole generation (maybe two by now) of urban people who have rarely - if ever - seen the Milky Way. Every time I find myself away from most of the ambient light of the city, I am in awe of the sky above me. The stars are such a presence! No wonder we humans have always looked to the stars for guidance and inspiration.
Just as we humans adopt each other, I believe we are related to the stars. They adopted us long ago. The stars sing to us, at least that's my experience. I believe that's why, when we look up at the night sky, we automatically see patterns. From those patterns, big, essential stories arise: myths, legends, tales of heroes and lovers and gods.
When I look at photos of the night sky, it's a lot harder to see the constellations. There are, after all (as Carl Sagan always said), billions and billions of stars. But anytime I get out of the city, take the time to let my eyes adjust to the dark, lean my head back and gaze, I see all kinds of evocative shapes. The dots connect. I feel that I am literally drinking (with my eyes), the songs of the stars. Whenever that happens, my relationship to the ancestors of long ago, who had exactly the same sense of awe and interest that I do, is literally palpable. Oh yeah.
I just made arrangements to spend some time at the end of August with a friend in his W. Virginia cabin. In order to see the stars there, you have to either get out from under the forest, up to a meadow close to his house, or get out on the Potomac where not only the stars and Milky Way, but their reflections, are visible.
Yes I love this crazy city where I live, I do. And I am an urban person in so many ways (not in every way). But. I love the stars. Can't wait to see them again. Happy Friday, y'all.
That's the east side of the Capitol on the right side of this pic.