A night sky

I came home late. I had to be somewhere in the evening and it was already past midnight when I got off my bicycle in front of the house. The weather could not have been better. It was sunny all day, and the sky was very clear. On such days, the sky gets bluer and more charming as dusk sets in. I find it beautiful. Such days and sights are not so common- maybe a few weeks every year, depending on the place of this continent you’re in.

Earlier in life, I never thought a bright and sunny day with a clear sky would matter so much. In some places, you have sun for almost 360 days a year and even when it’s gloomy, it doesn’t last very long. I grew up in one such place. Even rains are better- they make sounds and create a good spectacle. Then they stop, and it’s bright again. Maybe with rainbows. There are more hues, more colors, and more drama. But these days, there’s a lot of haze in the sky. It may be pollution, or something else. But you can’t see much into the distance even from a hilltop on a clear day. From some places, hills barely a few kilometers away are no more visible because of the dust, smoke, or smog.

Good weather days are much rarer here. But when you find one, you can’t not feel it. There’s little or no smog in the air, and from a hilltop, you can see as far into the horizon as there is to see. The sky is different, and even the colors of everyday things are different. Maybe they get to reflect a lot more light than usual, making the difference so apparent and noticeable.

Some of my friends found it hot today, and went for ice creams. In anticipation of the warm day I had left home in sandals instead of shoes. I usually park the bicycle inside, but today I thought I’d let it rest outside during the night, as if to let the bike enjoy some weather too.

A night sky with Big Dipper (pic: instructables.com)
A night sky with Big Dipper (pic: instructables.com)

Suddenly, I noticed the stars in the sky. I remember how difficult it is to see stars these days. I have struggled myself a few times. Because of city lights everywhere, there’s almost no place from where you can have a good view of the night sky. But there they were, right above me. Not as clear, or as many as they usually are. I could see large areas of the sky looking as empty as a canvas. But I could instantly identify a few constellations, the ones my father taught me when I was small.

I felt happy. Just being able to look at those few faint stars, felt like seeing someone familiar. I took a while to stand and look from one end of the sky to another. I don’t know why looking at the night sky and stars feels good. I don’t even know them properly. What makes me happy?
Maybe because they always made you curious as a child?
How many of them are there?
How far are they?
Who lives there?
Where do they go during the day?
Why are some bigger, but all very small?
What does it look like there? Are they also looking at us?

Maybe because they make you ask such questions and make you realize you are a miniscule speck of a particle that the rest of the existence doesn’t even care about? The small, almost invisible stars tell you your position in the universe, the futility of this all, and make you ask whether or not there’s any meaning to it.

Or maybe because they make you realize you are a part of this big, vast universe, with all these stars and dusts in the sky- so it cannot be without meaning after all- that you’re grounded here as a part of something big and important? The humdrum that kept you occupied all day drown out as you look up and compare the scale of this sansar with that of the surroundings. Something that has been here forever, will be forever, and you are a part of this infinite continuum, with your own purpose.

I really don’t know the reason. I was just happy for a while when I saw those stars. I liked the sight.

Then I spoiled it. With questions and curiosities. I am and can be happy about several other things. What’s so special about these vain stars?

I always saw these stars when I was small. It was a regular experience, a part of everyday life. Back then, I hadn’t imagined that later I’d not be able to see these twinkling objects as frequently. But is it so special after all? Why am I being happy at just this sight?

Maybe because in movies they show you people being happy looking at them? A couple of movies quickly flashed through my mind. I was not ready to believe this. But I was not able to answer myself properly either. I could not distinguish the cause from the effect.

I stopped looking at the stars and went indoors.

11-Feb-2016: During a New Hampshire town-hall event of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton this month, a Rabbi asked a question I could connect back to this blog. He said, Everyone needs 2 pockets- one with the note “the universe was created for me”, the other with “I am just dust and ashes.”


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