Sunday, September 5, 2010

We're Only as Small as the World Will Make Us Seem.

If there's anything I've learned in my fifteen years of being alive, it's that knowing the answer to everything isn't always as rewarding as genuine curiosity.

Tonight was one of those rare nights where the fog had drifted off and the sky was so clear that you could see the twinkle of every individual star within eye distance, like fine, bright points painted upon a blank black canvas. It was a night that made me realize, as much as I may hate this town, how lucky I am to be away from the big cities, where the flashing lights and glamorous buildings, and all the meaningless fabrications block out the things we're really supposed to see; the little bits of perfect that give us meaning within a series of worlds whose combined efforts make us seem too small to mean anything at all.

And as I drove home in the back seat of the car, enveloped by this brilliant array of stars, I thought about all the things I already know, the answers I already have; I know that the "twinkle" of each star is caused by the constant moving and shifting of the Earth's atmosphere. I know that the closest star to our planet is 4.3 light years away. I know that when small stars die, their remnants become dwarf stars and planetary nebulae, and that big stars will supernova and leave behind neutron stars or, if dense enough, black holes; I know that some of the very stars I saw tonight could have already burned out some hundred years ago. At one point, I looked ahead and saw an especially large, bright star and could determine, based on it's color, that it was red shifting, moving away from us.

But as informed as I may be about the basic concepts of Astronomy, there's something strangely comforting about realizing that there are still things out there that can't be explained. Nobody knows how we got here, or why we're here, or how everything that exists works or why it works that way, but that's how it's supposed to be.

We are because we are, because that's just how it happened.

People are intrigued by mystery; it's what gives things significance. If we held the key that unlocked all of life's mysteries and let us leap into the unknown, we would lose the profound sense of curiosity that makes us interested in everything we have. I don't want to lose that; I mean something because, even though I haven't the faintest idea how or why it happened, I'm here. I still exist.

And that is absolutely amazing.


  1. Wow, who knew that all that thought was happening in the back of a minivan on the way home from Grandma's? Kendra, you are so very amazing to me. Thank you for helping me see new things and remember old things and for paying attention in Astronomy and for being the most marvelous and thoughtful daughter on the planet! I love you!!