I stand in the cold, the chill embracing my body. Only a thin layer of fabric separates my legs from the frigid temperature, and it reminds me that the layers I wear do not extend far enough down. Yet I do not move. I lean against the car, the metal almost painful to the touch. Bits of snow flutter in the air and touch my nose. Far above the clouds have passed, and the stars shine brightly. I see Orion, forever locked into our imaginations as he chases Taurus the Bull and the Pleiades, all just images I stamp on the randomness of the stars that litter the sky like droplets of milk.
Ever since I was a small child, I’d look up at those stars and wonder. What lay far away on those other worlds orbiting such distant pinpricks of light. What beauty lay hidden in the swathes of starlight that hit my retinas to induce a cascade of information and emotions through the neurons of my brain. Those stars, those far away stars, are the originators of all of us.
Each atom that comprises our cells, the concrete under my feet, the air molecules we breathe — all of it comes from the fusion furnaces of those great stars, many whom will die a quieter death, where they fade away, expelling their outer layers and collapse to a white dwarf. But others, far more massive, will grow unstable, their interiors depleted of fuel, and the compression of the collapse explodes outward in one of the strongest and most violent explosions our universe has ever seen, and there, in that cataclysm, atoms are fused and more elements come into being, all shot into our galaxy to seed further stars.
Here I stand, a testament to those epic processes, that culminated in my existence. Our existence. The beauty of it all lives within each of us. We are born, infused with beauty and greatness, and it never fades. We just lose track of it. Life may twist and turn, obscuring what is true of ourselves, until we see only shadows and fears that throttle our journeys, threaten to derail us into tangents that lead us through pain and tragedy, and we wonder what is the purpose for it all? Is it even worth it anymore?
That is when I stand outside, and I look up at the stars. There, caught in the beauty, I see our past, written in the light waves that finally, after thousands of years reach our eyes to encode their information upon our brains, our images, our computers. And here, we are, analyzing, extracting, exploring the glories of our universe. The mysteries and beauty that lives within each of us, within our cells — our atoms, the essence of those stars. We forget who we are; who we are meant to be. We forget our connection — not only with those stars, but with each other. All the hatred, the anger, the oppression we’ve experienced pale in comparison to our connections, our empathetic bonds that bind us together as the human species. We are not so different, you and I, and yet we forget it so often. Dwelling on differences and forgetting all that connects us.