I awake at 2:21am and step outside.
I look up at the stars. The light pollution
prevents us from seeing a lot of stars here,
but I can see Orion and a several others.
I remember when I was ten, in Yosemite,
lying on my back at night, looking up,
and seeing thousands and thousands
of stars. I recently watched a TV show
with Stephen Hawking, where he said,
in his computer voice, "Our galaxy,
the Milky Way, has over 200 billion
solar systems, and we are just one
of billions of galaxies in the universe."
That kind of info is really hard to
wrap your head around. What strikes me,
tonight, 2:21am, looking up at all those
tiny points of light, is that each tiny
point of light is a solar system, with
its own planets. Because we see them
every night, stars might cease to amaze
us, but if we remind ourselves that they
represent other worlds, millions of
miles away, they can be quite
astonishing. It's a nice reminder that
our problems and passions, while not
unimportant, are also pretty tiny, in
the vastness of the universe. For some,
the realization of our relative smallness,
might be grounds to say, "Our lives are
meaningless." But I take a different view.
Our lives are important because they
are the only ones we've got. And,
should aliens from another world
ever visit us, I would prefer that they
find our planet in good condition,
peaceful and beautiful and just,
sort of like how my mom always
made sure the house was clean
before important guests arrived.