Always There

Many years ago, I remember standing alone on a balcony with only the velvet darkness of a moonless night and the sounds of the crashing ocean waves nearby for company. It was a clear night where every star sparkled in tiny, crisp twinkles as if to say “Look at me! Look at me!”

And I looked…and looked and looked for I don’t know how long. Standing in the darkness, I wondered who else was gazing at the same sky or would be when the sun set in their part of the world. I wondered how many had looked up and been unable to look away out of sheer speechless wonderment. How can little pinpoints of light have so much of an effect on the human soul?

I know the first time I saw the stars between the stars – the little background, paler twinklers that we tend not to see because of the brighter artificial lighting that surrounds us – the first time I turned off all the lights and stared up until the crick in my neck faded away and as in tandem the whole night sky came alive with all those little lights…I ceased to exist.

If you’ve never seen that, then go out tonight and look. Stand out there until you begin to see that it’s not stars that are sprinkled across the night sky, but the night sky that tries to seep out from a bed of stars spread out in much the same way the grains of sand are spread out on a beach.

The night often comes back to me because I remember a sense of both loneliness and belonging washing over me. It was as if I was part of some secret but one that no one ever spoke about and so you kept it in your heart and couldn’t share it. I wondered if there was anyone who understood that feeling, who was thinking the same thoughts and while I knew there were definitely thousands of ‘anyone’s out there, I also knew none of us would probably ever meet each other and if we did, we wouldn’t recognize each other in the harsh light of day.

I haven’t looked at the sky for many, many days, but I did today. And it blew me away all over again. As I’m typing the last folds of the cloak of that sense of lonely-belonging are wrapping themselves around me. It’s not a bad feeling for a natural pessimist like me.

In fact, it feels like the universe is gently scolding me for forgetting that there are precious few things you can rely on in life. Like stars. Stars will be there to the end of time, always twinkling, always sparkling, always amazing you. Every evening, when the sun sets, they’re out there, just being there for you. Steady, stable and constant.

Maybe that’s why even thought it’s been years since I stopped and looked at them again, they said the same things they did before and whispered the same messages again – because stars don’t lie.

S’laams
bint Ali

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