I was recently in northern Michigan on a clear night when there was no moon to create silhouettes of the pine trees. Against this “painted black” backdrop, the stars seemed to burst through the midnight sky. As I looked up to the sky with a sense of wonder and saw the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt, Seven Sisters, and countless other stars, I thought about how long it had been since I had seen the sky like that.
I remember being eight years old and lying in the grass with a friend looking up into the sky. We had just learned that the light of the star closest to Earth took four years to reach our eyes. I was struck by a realization of the expanse of my own little world — a neighborhood made up of Schwinn Stingrays and microchrome-stained knees where every door seemed to be open to each kid. As I lay there in my torn blue jeans and tee shirt, I realized my view of the world had just expanded. I was connected to the Earth, which was connected to the universe, which was part of infinity. To me, that was magical.
Max Schlickenmeyer says in this video that when he looks at the universe he doesn’t feel small, but he feels big. He feels relevant. He’s a participant. Somewhere along the way, I think we have lost our compass on how we are connected and interdependent. We live much more in an “either/or” versus an “and” society. There can be a sense that the world is happening to us, as opposed to us making proactive decisions each day to impact our future.
The level of polarization today begs for pathways to understanding and civility. The most astounding fact, that we are all somehow connected to each other and to the universe, should find a daily presence in our awareness as we try to work together towards a better world.