Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Stars

Just before I retired for the evening, I stepped outside on the small landing in front of my town home. I typically have a full and spectacular view of a star lit sky but not last night. Only the brightest stars were visible. It was disappointing so I thought, “no worries, I’ll be up early and can see them in the cool clear of the morning.” I went to bed and slept so peacefully. When I got up this morning I stepped outside while some delicious Starbuck’s coffee was brewing and was yet again, disappointed because a light fog had crept in while I was sleeping. There will be no communing with the stars this morning. I remind myself that there are just times like that in life. Something small and seemingly insignificant that brings you great joy may not always be around. So, what then? Well, that’s where the beautiful memories come in and I have so many.

One of my favorites that I’m in full recall of this morning was a camping trip with my dad and my brother to Lake Elsinore. It used to be a nice place to camp or at least it seemed that way when I was nine years old. One particular trip, my dad and I sat on a picnic table and looked up at the night sky. With very few houses, at that time, and lights around, the light pollution was very minimal. When you looked up at the sky, there were millions and millions of visible stars. In fact, you could see the Milky Way with your bare unaided eyes. When my dad pointed that out to me and I could see it, a thrill of energy surged up within me. I had read about it in school and now I had a picture in my memory of what it looked like. I climbed on top of the picnic table and lay on my back so I could take in the full view of the night sky. I was quite simply mesmerized, felt so calm, serene and peaceful just staring at the sky…and then, of course, I saw a few shooting stars and made a lot of wishes. I don’t remember the wishes any more but I remember the view. That’s what I hold onto now when I need to see the star filled sky and just can’t get there.

It’s a great memory and I’m reminded often that when you set your heart on something and it just doesn’t come to fruition, maybe the timing isn’t right or there is something temporarily obscuring the view. Patience and creativity is all that are needed to navigate your way through the disappointment. You don’t want to hang your happiness on anything but you and what you can control. If you always remember that, such little disappointments can’t affect you for long and you can easily return to a peaceful and serene place. In a somewhat chaotic and always unpredictable world, you have to create diversions for yourself in order to not be derailed by life’s little disappointments. Don’t become obsessed with outcomes and you will know less pain and frustration. Learning to let go of what you want can often bring it right back to you when it matters most.

I’m finding at this moment that although I missed my starry sky view this morning, I found the peace in the memory, I found the peace in the quiet time in my living room sipping coffee and I found that although disappointed, I remember the beauty of a starry sky and that’s enough for me for now. There will be other times to enjoy the view and maybe I might just find other beautiful things to look at and hold my attention rapt and curious. Life is like that... Noticing small things.
Yesterday I watched the sun come up. In the early morning hours, I watched the tiny dust particles in the air reflecting light almost like tiny pieces of glitter floating through the air. I watched the particles swirl and dance in morning’s first light. It was amazing how something so simple could seem like an orchestrated show for me…yeah, narcissistic thoughts there but go with me here for a minute…I was taking something extremely mundane and changing my perspective to see the beauty of a moment. When you become very aware in a moment, things can seem larger than life and the view changes a bit from nothing to something you might not have noticed before. I wish it were easy to view the whole of our lives like that. It might save us from hasty ill-conceived decisions and viewpoints. But then again, maybe those hasty-ill-conceived decisions and viewpoints are the stuff of fantastic lessons we must learn in order to appreciate life.

I’m certain that I would not have learned to become very aware in any moment were it not for some pretty intense lessons I had to learn. In retrospect, I’m really grateful for those experiences because I learned something important; many things that were important actually. For the rest of my life I think I shall strive ever to pay attention in a moment and see all the things I can possibly see, things I never considered, and things that will have me appreciating life even more. So, the thoughts are pretty simple today: Adjust yourself and expectations when the disappointments come and be very aware in the now so you don’t miss anything that is really important.


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