Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Star gazing

I don't often drink alcohol, so the morning after a holiday party involves none of the nausea and remorse for drunken revels customary to these events. I instead wake up to think of nice things I could have said to nice people, and did not. I am resigned to the fact that I am a social moth rather than a social butterfly.

When I was thirteen or so, my mother gave me Dale Carnegie's famous old-fashioned self-help book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People". It's a fun read, a bit twee in just the right ways. Its advice is very straightforward--smile a lot and talk about the other person most of the time. I must work on this :).

I admit that, like Anne of Green Gables, I spend my life searching out kindred spirits. The quality of being "kindred" has nothing to do with similar interests or even similar values. Rather, being kindred is something almost synaptic, that feeling that some electrical connection linking two or more people imbues any conversation. It's that feeling that one has, when speaking with someone else, that one will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This process delights me in part because the process occurs elusively. Someone sparks a bit of interest, for an arcane reason, in some odd little way, and suddenly, one communicates with an entirely new universe of ideas and delectable notions.

I see us all as astronomers in some ways. We are trapped on our little bit of dust and ruin. But we gaze constantly through equipment of limited utility in search of limitless scenery. We don't always see or hear with our telescope apparati all the wonders of the universe. Sometimes we spend entire evenings sitting in the dark, looking at rich fields of stars, and finding nobody with whom to communicate.

I know that, like the astronomer, I often achieve satisfaction only by spotting some overlooked nebula, or by sending satellites out pointed at the most curious star clusters. But really, the universe is so vast, and I can only explore so much of it. I must resolve to use my "rich field deep sky" telescope once in a while, and be better at panning over space objects regardless of whether they capture my soul. But I believe tremendous compensation arises from the communions I do achieve, as I view bursting supernovae, curious little red stars and vivid pulsars.

We all sit on our little planets, so far from communication with the other planets in the other galaxies. The aloneness is immense, and the distances are much more vast than the mere calculation light years might indicate. But in some smiles, deep space can be bridged. In some turns of phrase, the universe unfolds. I will become better at speaking to the galaxy at large--I am better now than I was twenty years ago. But I will never regret that I tend to see most clearly a few select stars. I will always calibrate my viewfinder for kindred spirits.
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