The Perseids

There’s something magical about staring at the stars that makes you realize your own infinity. Or your own minuscule existence. I haven’t quite figured out which yet. I just spent the last hour huddled in my grey sweatshirt, hood pulled tight, gazing up at the stars and pleading — hoping — for some kind of sign from the universe. A beacon, an idea, a tiny arrow pointing me in the right direction. I was concentrating so hard on listening for some imaginary whisper that I forgot to look; all around me, shooting stars were streaking across the night sky.

Tonight is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, an event that has been a long-held tradition in my family. The text I received from my dad earlier this evening stated simply, “Perseids!” No other explanation needed. I grabbed the necessary gear (lawn chair, pillow, blanket) and headed for the mountains, away from city lights.

It’s easy to imagine the tranquility of a typical star-gazing scenario…but when surrounded by wilderness and darkness and vast cosmos, the otherwise peaceful experience transforms and becomes a bit lonely. And more than a little scary. The most mundane sounds suddenly become bears, rattlesnakes, serial murderers targeting me in my lone position on the desolate mountain road. Every car that passes by sends me into a near-panic.

Yet between the mild neuroses, I’m still able to lose myself in the absolute beauty of it all. These majestic meteors, streaking across the night sky. The gentle sounds of insects, the warm breeze on my face. I find a certain peace.

As I’m getting ready to call it a night, I give a final plea for one little shred of a clue, one single show of spectacularity, to prove that my haphazard life is somehow on the right path. I don’t need to wait long, only a few seconds…and there it is. Two blazing stars, in brilliant succession, leaving trails of hope and encouragement in their wake. I place my hands on my heart, tears quietly making their escape, and offer up my gratitude.

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