Can stargazing help us to see eye to eye
Gazing in wonder at the stars, Calvin turns to his old pal Hobbes and says, “If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently.” I argue the mischievous blonde-haired boy is right. We must set aside time to stare at the night sky.
Luckily, we live in the vast Midwest, so just hop on the highway and drive to an open area with little light pollution, either bringing a buddy or going solo. Grab a blanket, leave the warmth of your car and lay down. Now stare at the expanse around you.
Of course, if you are short on time, you needn’t go this far or even be this angsty. Simply look up. On the walk home from the library, look up. After the 10 p.m. Huddle run, look up. If only for a few measly seconds, look up.
On a clear, dark night, one could potentially see 9,000 of the 100 billion stars shining within the Milky Way galaxy, which, as a reminder, is only one galaxy among the more than 100 billion others.
Then there is you and I, two beings among seven billion other humans, sharing the same pebble of a planet. Under the sky, status, wealth, age, gender, religion, race and all other divisions are suddenly of little importance.
Underneath the sky, we are but a single human family.
Perhaps we should glance upward just to remind ourselves of this simple truth.
Stargazing not only reminds us who we are as a human family but informs us of our infinitesimal place in the universe.
The vast realm of twinkling stars and distant planets remind us of our insignificance when compared to all of space, known and unknown.
We aren’t as a big of a deal as we thought.
Suddenly, the essay due in 14 hours seems dramatically less daunting, and the awkward job interview is less disastrous relative to the whole scheme of the universe. This is not to say our lives lack value or importance but that reminders in humility could heal anxious, worried minds.
As Virginia Woolf said, “When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?”
And yet, upon realizing our own insignificance, we do not fall into existential despair nor feel disheartened at the thought of living miniscule lives. Instead, as we look upwards, the humbling dark sea of stars reminds us of life’s immense value.
To live on a planet such as earth is a rare opportunity and breathing a first breath is the reward of surpassing stark mathematical odds not in our favor. And regardless of whether we live in a god-filled or god-less universe, to be active participators and inheritors of earth is a beautiful and precious gift.
Coming to this realization, we feel both a rush of excitement and a weight of responsibility. We have only one shot at life, so we must not waste it.
We start reflecting on our lives: “Why did I ever quit writing letters? Why don’t I call Michael, Paige or one of my old pals sometime? Where are they? When was the last time I baked bread for my neighbor? Or skipped stones across the water?”
Under the stars, tiny matters aren’t so tiny.
Few, if any, will stare at the stars and think of paying taxes. Like baked bread and handwritten letters, our thoughts gravitate towards more wholesome ideas.
We not only remember the great value of small moments, but we remember who we are and what it is we want to do with our lives.
When stargazing, the demanding, and often unanswerable, questions come to mind: Why are we here? What does this world need? What do I have to offer? And, most importantly, what can I do to help?
Simply looking upwards can be motivation enough to reroute our lives and pursue our ideals rather than monotonously living the 8-5.
There you go, stargazing is a two-in-one deal. Those shining constellations soothe anxious minds while nourishing aspirations and dreams.
The night sky helps us let go of trivial matters and remember our ideals. We begin to live our lives, as the unruly, wise Calvin suggested, a lot differently.
Jessica Ruf is a sophomore journalism and English major from Sioux Falls, S.D.