Far From the Maddening Crowd

The stars were amazing here in Maine the other night, bright, atomized points of pleasure just drifting about in a listless void. The wind was gushing nonsense in the tall, dark trees. I was able to identify the Big Dipper, the Little, and I think Cassiopeia and the Dog Star of summer, though I am not certain because the erratic flight of a bat seemed to scribble the stars right from under its dark wings. Around my head swooped the bat, taking on a supernatural dimension as he vanished into the crown of stars and then reappeared as if out of nowhere to continue his fitful night flight.

I can’t imagine living in a city like New York or Tokyo and seeing no stars, the countless stars absolutely countless as the city obscures with the shroud of numberless lights and smothers with zero-visibility smog. I wonder if a loss of starlight can shut off a person’s imagination? If you were able to peer within the mind’s universe, I wonder if you would see one of those chalk outlines where imagination existed and a cord of flashing lights to prevent further exploration.

And it’s not so much that the stars fashion a poetics of reflection and introspection, although they can and do, it’s more aesthetic. It’s the original Starry Night just waiting for someone to see something in the vast heavens that hasn’t been seen before. The stars are a way back to a mind free of worry and a way forward to a mind creating wonder all held within a still moment of just looking, gazing without preconceptions or judgment. It’s the eternal made mortal and the mortal aching for the eternal.

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