Look Up And See

Another painting from my archive. Today I call this, "The Other Side Of Yearning."

Another painting from my archive. Today I call this, “The Other Side Of Yearning.”

The fire in the fire pit was waning. The party was over and everyone had gone. We sat staring into the small flames, quiet, exhausted from the day yet exhilarated from the amazing people and conversations that filled our evening. It was a cloudless night sky and I sat back into my chair and lost myself in the stars.

Once, many years ago, I went to Kitt Peak Observatory outside of Tucson and spent a long evening looking into deep space. I saw stars and star clusters, asteroids, black holes and ice fields. We ended the evening looking towards Andromeda, the nearest galaxy to ours; it was so distant that its stars appeared to me as a mist, a shadow that shimmered. I was overcome with emotion that night. I’ve never felt so small and yet so undeniably connected. I was a universe within a universe within a universe. I was nothing and everything.

As I sat last night in my chair looking at the little points of light in the sky, I thought about all the things that seem so insurmountable on this earth. There are economies of exclusion, wars and markets that depend upon wars to prosper, slavery and drought and poverty, there are broken lives, broken hearts, and broken dreams. There are closed hearts and closed minds. There are people killing people over conflicting definitions of god. There are so many tug-of-wars over possessions and power and resources and boundaries that, from ground level, appear vital, real and important. But the moment you gaze into the night sky, the moment you place yourself in the context of the enormity, the moment you recognize the paradox of existence, the smallness of separation and the infinity of connection, you see how mechanical and rote most of our dramas really are. They are mostly made up. They are patterns of our creation. They are, each and every one, built upon the ultimate cop-out answer: we do it this way because we’ve always done things this way.

Once, in high school, I was at science camp in the mountains on the night of a meteor shower. We lay on blankets in a meadow oohing and aahing at the dance of stars happening in the heavens. I remember being awed. I remember thinking that the only real purpose people serve is to make up stories about the things we can’t explain. We are witnesses to miracles everyday and because we must somehow contain it, we reduce it. That night I understood that all belief systems were just that: systems. They are mechanisms to help us contain what we cannot comprehend. We need them to function, to orient ourselves in infinite space but forget that we invent them. In the face of the sheer magnitude of our existence, we reduce ourselves, too, and forget that what blinks at us in the night sky, is a force, an energy that transforms, and we are an expression of that force. We are part of it. Our role may be to witness, to appreciate, to interpret, to sense make, but mostly, gazing into the sky, I think our role is to recognize ourselves in it. If we are capable of losing ourselves in the stars we are equally capable of finding ourselves in the enormity of it all.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

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