When I walked to the end of my drive to put the rubbish out, I was ambushed by the sky.
It was there, waiting, above me. I was defenceless. I looked up and it had me.
I was thinking about normal, human stuff: god, this bin bag’s stinky, I hope they sort my bloody credit card out soon, that girl in town was so fit she made me hurt. Normal, reasonable, prosaic… nice.
And then the stars had me. They flamed down on me from millions upon millions of miles away and often millions upon millions of years ago. How many of them were actually dead now, their photons hitting my retina after travelling all that distance from so long ago?
Think of that. Every star you see, the light was screamed out of it by fusing matter, the photons spent some time bumbling around the inside of the beast before escaping and tearing their way across space/time, into you eye. Maybe you just glanced at it. Just once. And in that glance, you caught a fraction of the life of that sun. In your eye. Who knows what planets revolved around it, what life it nurtured as our sun feeds us? Now I’m standing on the end of my drive, stinky bin bag in hand, looking up at these billions of stars. They are born and shine and die, just as we do.
I had to gather my wits. In Oakwood, there’s only so long a man can stand around with a bin bag, gaping at the sky, before concerned neighbours come out, drape a blanket around your shoulders and ask if you need a cuppa.
I came inside. I got my camera stuff and went for a drive to a less light-polluted area. There, I took the pics you see here. The night was warm and crisp, the field I was standing in was blacker than the Horsehead Nebula and all I could hear was distant traffic and, occasionally, shrieks and pitiful uluations as some small mammal met a grisly end. It was… spooky. I was scared. Good.
I took pics. I gazed up at the sky, it filled me up with reason and rationality and perspective. I was on my own. Wistfully, I wished there had been someone there to share this magical night with me but that isn’t my life at the moment. It was, for a long, beautiful time. Maybe it will be again. Some day?
In the meantime, at least I have the stars. And I hope, even though we’re confounded by the nature of distance/time, that I was looking up at some creature, somewhere, who was looking up at me, too.
I waved goodbye when I left. 🙂