I read something recently that really made me think. If you lived on the sunshine side of a tidal locked planet (one in which one side of its sphere always faces the body it orbits around), over the generations you might completely lose sight of the fact that there’s a universe out there, because you’d never see the stars.
How tragic that would be. For centuries, Man has been looking skyward and wondering what is out there. We imagine constellations of stars as being part of a group even though they are nowhere near each other. We give them names. We wonder if we are alone.
Personally, I find it extremely comforting that there’s something so much larger than myself that it practically renders me insignificant. It makes me feel that any concerns I may be having are insignificant, too.
There is so much beauty in the night sky. It calms me. It embraces me. I’d hate to lose that sense of awe.
Our moon is tidally locked to us, which is why we always see the same face. But we are not tidally locked to it, nor is it tidally locked to the sun, which is why we see different phases of it as it continues to face us. If you lived on the far side of the moon, you wouldn’t know earth existed. That’s a profound view of reality, because the earth is comparatively huge, and would be rather hard to ignore in other circumstances.
Tidal locking would mean you’d only get to see one version of reality. And over time that reality would be reinforced to such a degree that it would be hard to leave room for any other beliefs. (In fact, one’s very concept of the passage of time would probably be so different that it might render one incapable of imagination.)
It just goes to show that your reality has a great deal to do with where you are looking. That’s why I love to travel so much. I think it’s important to experience other points of view. And by that I don’t just mean the opinions of others. I mean the points from which I get to view the world and the heavens.
I hope you take time to look about you, dear reader. There are many things to see. And those sights will enhance your connection to the universe.
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The term “solstice” always sets off a slight frisson in me. It evokes ancient rites and rituals, the customs of people we barely remember and are hard-pressed to comprehend. No matter what your spiritual beliefs or lack thereof, it’s hard to ignore the passage of time as indicated by the sun, our main purveyor of life.
Today marks the winter solstice, the longest night and the shortest day of the year. On this day I tend to entertain an irrational fear that the sun may decide not to come back to us after all. That would spell disaster. Come back sun! Please come back!
There is ample evidence that ancient peoples took this day very seriously as well.
The Romans celebrated Saturnalia, and during this time all societal norms and conventions were sidelined. People ran wild. Masters served their slaves. I love the thought of that on so many levels.
Even in modern times, Druids gather at Stonehenge, and the sunrise lines up perfectly with the principle arch. Meanwhile, in Chaco Canyon, thousands of miles away, two daggers of sunlight will exactly bracket a spiral that was etched on a stone wall on Fajada Butte by some long-forgotten hand. (Sadly the average person will never see this again, as it’s protected from tourism for fear the rocks will shift and destroy the phenomena.)
In many parts of the world, farmers chose this day to slaughter their livestock so as not to have to feed them through the long, dark winter.
In Scandanavia, this was the time to burn the yule log, while on the other side of the world, the Mayans engaged in the flying pole dance, and the Incas were honoring the sun god.
The winter solstice is a day of death and fear and celebration and renewed hope. It is the official start of the winter season. Be that as it may, I was already over this cold, raw weather a month ago. Wishing you the fortitude to make it ‘til spring!
I love the dark. I think that started because I was a chronic migraine sufferer from an early age. Even though I rarely get migraines anymore, somewhere in my brain light will always equal pain.
I almost never turn lights on unless I have to read something or am unfamiliar with my environment. I think of darkness as a blanket that comforts me rather than an unknown that scares me. In the dark my imagination can run wild. Fortunately it usually runs to positive places.
My brother-in-law is just the opposite. He has night lights in every single room in his house. Even when you turn out the lights there’s light. I can’t imagine what his electric bill must be like. If I visit, I always have to remember to pack something to use as a blindfold or I get no sleep at all.
To me, the night holds mystery, potential and possibility. Nights are usually less predictable, and I love that. While I admit that life requires a certain level of balance and moderation, and I understand that everything is a matter of perspective, I’ll pick the moon and stars over the great scareball in the sky any day.
[Image credit: gagthat.com]