A cool, refreshing breeze blows over your face as you lie down in a field of freshly cut grass. Small white dots pepper the sky, providing the only illumination for miles around. Does that sound familiar?
For me, it was an integral part of my childhood. Going outside and finding things in the night sky was something I truly enjoyed. It quickly led to an interest in astronomy. What are those specks of light? How do you use a telescope? Is there life out there?
Seeking answers to these questions led me on an educational journey. It was fascinating to learn about the universe around us and how we interact with it. There were always more questions than answers, only adding to the appeal.
A decade later and the starry night sky remains the same. My interests, however, have definitely shifted. I still enjoy learning more about what's out there, but there's just something inherently inspiring in simply observing. Neither trying to use a star map nor figuring out what star belongs to what constellation. Neither using a telescope nor taking notes in a detailed journal. Just staring into oblivion, stupefied by the astounding beauty.
It's almost a form of meditation. It's definitely a refreshing alternative to sitting at home, staring idly at the same television screen for hours on end.
For millennia, humans have seen the stars shift across the night sky. Our ancestors used their imagination to form shapes and figures among the otherwise random splattering of points.
These days, it has become increasingly easy to ignore everything else and only focus on your own problems. It has become effortless to get caught up in the hectic pace of life and not take time to unwind and reflect. Sometimes the best escape from our lives is to literally look outside our world and watch the universe around us.
Stargazing with family and friends only adds to the experience. To not only share observations, but to also share such a powerful experience is amazing. When you stare into the void, it puts life into perspective. You may be nothing in respect to the universe, but you are everything for those around you.
Learning about astrophysics, stellar evolution, or the latest exoplanet discovery is still enjoyable to me. Yet surprisingly, I've taken a greater interest in something that requires knowledge of none of those. Sometimes the best thoughts require no thought at all.
So here's a thought: Go outside at night and look at the stars. It's definitely an experience everyone should share in. If anything, it sure beats reading this column!