Look Up, Think, Wonder

full moon

Do you remember the first time you saw the Milky Way?

It’s easy to feel insignificant. Small. Irrelevant. Our existence is infinitesimal, and the universe will go on without us. I’ve studied a bit of astronomy in my life, and currently reading Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (10/10 recommend). It’s not easy to fathom something so intangible as what exists beyond our small floating rock of a planet — books help make some sense of it. Yet nothing compares to the raw, unfiltered, unadulterated night sky. Quite literally, it’s the most clarity I’ve ever experienced.

Let your mind wander as you look up, think, and wonder what “outer space” really is, and how insane it is that you are a physical form made up of the same chemicals as the stars but with emotion — you have an impeccable ability to love. Humanity has come so far in its attempt to make sense of the greater universe, but we’ll never have all the answers.

The first time I saw the Milky Way was in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. Some friends and I were camping for the weekend. Eating backpacker sandwiches and sipping whiskey. When darkness fully set in, the sky lit up. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Growing up in a place like Los Angeles I never knew it was humanly possible to see so many stars. I’m talking orbiting satellites, planets, shooting stars — I could see what I imagined at the time to be a picture of the entire universe. Awestruck, inspired, humbled. Unanswerable questions floating through my head. I laid on the bench outside our tent for hours before my mind could rest. It was the most beautiful sight.

I’ve since chased many a sunrise and sunset. Seeking out the darkest places in attempt to get a glimpse of that night sky again. It’s an incomparable feeling. And while we may never know the answers to the universe, spending time with the Milky Way has helped me to find many answers to my own infinitesimal existence.

Yosemite National Park, August 2016

Yosemite National Park, August 2016