When a man looks at the stars, he grows calm and forgets small things. They answer his questions and show him that his earth is only one of the million worlds. Hold your soul still and look upward often, and you will understand their speech. Never forget the stars.
– Frances Hodgson Burnett
As a child I loved to lay in the backyard on a blanket and gaze up at the stars. I would lay there and think of different worlds and aliens, stories of traveling and going places that seemed unimaginable. My perception of my life altered as I witnessed the vastness of space and sky. I became a small piece among many other small pieces.
Of course, this acknowledgement wasn’t spearheaded from my great intellectualizing, but from a deep feeling of smallness that filled me. This smallness wasn’t one of irrelevance, more of an acceptance of how I truly am one of many.
When I am unaware of this, or denying of it, I can get lost in the overall significance of me and the “important” things going on in my life. I make myself and these “other things” bigger than what they are. I lose sight of where I stand in this universe of many.
If I’m running late because of traffic, do I need to get riled up and destroy my day and another’s? Or would it be best to recognize all the different moments that are happening for everyone?
Some are traveling to work, stressed about the day ahead. Others are going to the hospital with a heavy heart, because someone they love is ill or dying. Others may be reciting answers to a quiz they’re going to take later that afternoon. Some are broken hearted because their partner told them they were leaving them. Some are meeting friends for lunch or coffee, and still others are picking up children and getting new paint for their living room.
There are many different scenarios in any given millisecond of time. All these scenarios bump into one another and cause distractions, disturbances, and delays. But there are also those times, where the bumping up against one another is inspiring, enriching, and life-changing.
We benefit from our connection with one another. Even with our differences we can learn about life and the workings of the heart and mind. We can find answers that we didn’t know existed, because they come from a view we didn’t have.
When I take in all the possibilities of where you’re at, I can settle into knowing that what you’re doing is just as important as what I’m doing. My place in this world becomes small, not irrelevant just similar. We’re all working and talking, sharing and loving, trying our best and sometimes making colossal mistakes.
I can look at the stars at any given moment, whether day or night, and find the calm they offer. This truth of being one of many restores me, allows me to know you and your struggles and to rightsize my perceptions of my own life and this world.
Hence, “he grows calm and forgets small things.”
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