For the past week we’ve had the pleasure of watching the lead up and wind down to the Venus and Jupiter conjunction in the west sky. From the comfort of our couch no less as they travel the expanse of the living room windows throughout the evening. Their appearance has become something of an anticipated unknown – when will they appear, where will they appear, what position will they be in, how long before they disappear. A welcome curiosity perhaps.
The funny part is we didn’t even know this was going on. Last night we ventured onto the deck with binoculars in hand to take a better look and locate their position in the sky (halfway between Orion and Cassiopeia at the time). A vague remembrance of something on Facebook and a quick check on the computer verified we weren’t crazy and our star charts were right after all.
This also confirmed why we could never figure out which way the earth was rotating relative to the star, sun and moon positions based on these two ultra white lights in the sky. A somewhat geeky game we like to play perhaps, but a really good way to shake the cobwebs out of place and have a true reality check.
Star gazing, and even star glimpsing, is a wonder full and curiosity filled experience. The smudge in the sky turns out to be Pleiades, a cluster of many stars brighter than our own sun. The stories of the stars were created by those who lived hundreds of years ago in different parts of the world. The realization we are not apart from the Milky Way up there, but a part. A star could go out in the very next moment millions of light years ago. The isolation we endure from all that looks so close. We know so little when we see how much more there is to know.
I had a thought this morning how effective wonder and curiosity are at creating those breaks in our thinking about what is real or not. When we start to see ourselves here from out there the picture begins to change dramatically. When we talk about the real world, how real are we willing to allow ourselves to get?
The sun doesn’t set, the earth rotates – towards the east, where the sun rises. The stars don’t come out or appear every night – they never go away. What we can see is minute in comparison to what is there – and here. Time changes in the presence of gravity – or when we play with clocks. Seasons do not begin on the same day everywhere. In comparison to the size of most everything, we really can go through the eye of a needle or sit on the head of a pin.
Wonder and curiosity help us to make these breaks in “reality” to what is really real, or more real, so we can see our lives and ourselves from a new perspective. We get to peek out from between the usually drawn curtains. We get to glimpse looking back at what we have a hard time seeing forward. We get to make the tiniest dip of the toe into what more there is to explore. Wonder and curiosity are two of our best tools to propel us along. Even the quickest glance at the night sky can put us in the right frame of mind to put a crack in what is.
But the brain hurts in these moments. Is that from overload or rewiring? When seen as the latter we continue to push through the pain, knowing there is something beyond our grasp for not much longer. Let’s not lose these opportunities to see anew and see what is, and can be, really real.