Don’t Postpone Joy: Why We Stargaze

Stargazer standing beneath the Milky Way
Don McCrady / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Years in the past, I had a bumper sticker that learn, “Don’t Postpone Joy.” That easy, profound message has garnered plenty of consideration over the years. One time, the driving force and passenger of a automotive on the freeway waved frantically at me to roll down my window so they might shout, “Where did you get that bumper sticker?!” at 60 miles per hour.

Don’t postpone pleasure. It’s a good mantra for residing.

In July 2020, I lay exterior on the picnic desk at the hours of darkness, trying up. At the time, we had a small open patch of sky seen from behind the home, which blocked the streetlamps and a lot of the lights from neighboring houses. But inside Portland metropolis limits, the sky was darkish gray at finest. I used my outdated binoculars — an affordable pair of 10×50 Tascos — to scan immediately above, with a bit of room to the east and northeast. I may glimpse elements of Cassiopeia via our apple tree branches and Cygnus peeking out from behind a neighbor’s wild cherry tree. Ursa Minor was simple sufficient, and I may hint Draco if I attempted arduous. Delphinus and Sagitta have been hidden by the roof and one other huge tree.

It wasn’t superior stargazing, however that was okay. I wasn’t goal looking. I barely even registered what I used to be taking a look at. In the midst of a worldwide pandemic and mounting stress across the U.S. presidential election, I largely simply wanted a break from the world.

I hadn’t regarded up on the sky in years, probably not. Sure, I’d say hiya to Orion once I noticed him on clear winter nights, and I frequently marveled on the Moon, however I hadn’t had time for stargazing. No, I hadn’t made time for stargazing.

But a buddy was rediscovering his childhood love of beginner astronomy, and understanding about my very own space nerdiness, he inspired me to spend a while trying up, too.

What a distinction just a few moments could make. That summer season night time, my coronary heart fee slowed as I turned my consideration skyward, and my respiratory evened out. It’s no exaggeration to say I felt knots loosening up. There have been no agendas, no deadlines, no digital alerts pulling my focus. It was simply me and the stars — and a few irritating mild escaping the kitchen window, and the splintery wooden of the outdated picnic desk. But I discovered such peace — such aid — within the midst of the world’s turmoil.

With or with out my low-cost binoculars, the night time sky introduced me again to myself. Under the stars, I remembered the entire purpose why I wished to be a author within the first place — to hold on the custom of the campfire storytellers from millennia up to now, spinning tales of problem, reassurance, and that means beneath their very own star-filled skies. More than that, it was a rediscovery of surprise and awe, and it was out there to me on any clear night time, mere steps exterior my door.

“Don’t postpone joy,” I whispered to myself. I developed a brand new behavior of preparing for mattress, ready in my pajamas for the sky to get darkish sufficient, after which stretching out on the picnic desk or on a blanket within the grass for just a few moments of much-needed restoration. We’ve cleared some tree branches since then, and I’ve discovered just a few spots for higher views, relying on the season and what I’d wish to marvel at. I finally purchased myself a zero-gravity chair for consolation, and I’ve been assembling an array of binoculars and telescopes to feed the behavior that in flip feeds my soul.

I relaxation higher on these nights, even once I sacrifice sleep to remain up late or stand up tremendous early, and there’s a quiet however excited tranquility that carries over into the subsequent day. Once the timelessness of the huge universe sinks into your bones, the fast considerations of an agitated world don’t penetrate as deeply.

My father used to tease me by quoting that bumper sticker. Now, years after the sticker colours have pale and its slogan misplaced, his reminders are in earnest. And I’m listening.

Why do you stargaze? Watch this space for extra explorations on why we glance up.

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