Every August our spinning planet arcs through a patch of comet debris. If you get away from the city lights and tilt your face toward the heavens, you'll be treated to one of my favorite natural shows: a meteor shower, the brightest of the year - the Perseids. The anticipation, the unpredictable and delicate fleeting flashes of light, the gasp-inducing big ones that leave a sparkling tail of light in the sky after the meteor has faded... meteor showers are magical and awe-inducing.
This year my viewing spot was on the shores of Lake Selmac outside of Grants Pass, Oregon. I was joined by eight friends. We laid our lawn chairs and sleeping bags along the sandy bank with a clear view of the northeastern sky. We stayed up scanning the heavens, chatting and laughing, attempting to enforce a "no gadget zone" - if your eyes are exposed to light (ahem, cell phones) it takes about 20 minutes for them to re-adjust to the darkness for optimal meteor viewing. We set our alarms to wake us around 3:30am, (3:33am on my phone), the peak of the show.
Over the course of the evening and pre-dawn morning I lost track of how many flying sparks we saw - probably more than 50. One was so bright it lit the sky like lightning.
As the horizon began to brighten, the stars faded, and the beautiful night morphed into a gorgeous dawn. Purples turned to pinks turned to golds. Mist sped across the still surface of the lake, here and there dancing in silent circles and whirls.
When I sleep under the stars, when I'm present for the transitions of birth and death of the sun, I experience the movement of this planet. I see the constellations shifting imperceptibly above me. I realize there are cycles that are hidden away when I'm inside of a building, where I can control light and temperature. I'm in control, but I'm disconnected. Is the comfort worth the disconnect? Is it worth the sacrifice of being alive? For me, living - really living - is not about comfort. It's about experience, uncomfortable or not. It's about connection.
Let's re-integrate ourselves into the natural world. Reconnect with all-that-is. It's us.