The beautiful and iconic song “When you wish upon a star” has come to my mind and keeps playing in my head even though I have not seen one Disney movie this entire holiday season. What I have heard though, is about all the eclipses, conjunctions, moon phases; all sorts of astronomical events. At this time of year it seems I wasn’t the only one captivated by the news of a “Christmas star.” I was always interested in who these bygone star gazing experts were; three kings? Where from? Or were they three wise men who studied the ever evolving map of the “heavens”? Could they have been some sort of astrologers of old and were they all male for that matter. Astrology, as we know, seems to have been quite the thing in many ancient cultures.
I remember the thrill of getting our family’s first telescope and us kids elbowing each other as we vied for turns to gaze at the stars. Why were some stars more red and others blue and why did the planets look like stars? Why is the moon howling? Yes, it was a 1950’s beginner’s telescope, complete on its wooden tripod legs that I managed to pull out of storage this holiday season to view the Jupiter- Saturn conjunction. I was able to see the conjunction, albeit poorly due to cloud cover, but it never really lived up to my high expectations of a spectacular “Christmas star.” A difficult task by any means, apparently the heavens had 3 not just 2 planets in conjunction 2020 years ago. Combine that with imagery from the Hubble being so advanced and spoiling us as we go further into space. What sound tracks of New Age music have been the backdrop of these images as the camera records its long journey at updated super fast speed. We are told there is no sound in space, but then we hear that waves of sound from other solar systems have been sensed. The vastness and enormity of it all is quite incomprehensible and we want more. Or can there be more? Are we going into black hole? What is that black hole anyway...does it have sound? Where do you go if you are swallowed up anyway? Is there a great band playing?
Speaking of great bands...In my earlier years I remember leaving NYC and all the great bands playing at the Fillmore. I remember the disruption that was happening because of conflicts concerning so many issues that 2020 frightfully seems a heightened repeat performance of.
I got dropped off on one of those hitches to Boulder Colorado and lay outside in the vast mountains watching the Perseids meteor display. Wishing one by one as the shooting “stars” fell in the night sky. All the wishes in my mind for love, beauty, world peace and to be able to laugh and feel joy. Laying beneath the sky, entranced and finally surrendered to the luminescent stars shining so brightly as they shoot across the heavens disappearing in the black sky. There was no time to linger on what happened to it, for another, and another, and yet another fell over my head in an astronomical fireworks display!
Later years I found myself escaping to the forests on my cross country skies with only the light of the full moon as my guide. Here I would listen to the music of the trees, whispering branches dancing in the wind under the night skies interrupted by the warning hoot of an owl. Sometimes I would hear the coyotes go on a valley to valley howling chorus and sometimes I would find myself wondering... had the wolves returned? On these journeys I usually had the opportunity to take shelter at a friend’s shack or a national forest cabin I rented and would go out and just listen and stare at the vastness of the sky and somehow I knew my problems and even myself were so small. The music I heard in the universe was being played by the largest most beautiful symphony orchestra I had ever heard. I don’t remember ever hearing any compositions like it...I think it was the music of the spheres. I was always annoyed when I couldn’t remember even a small, tiny portion of it. I remember my brain trying to translate it and finding it would require a huge orchestra to even attempt it. I still go out and refresh my brain under night skies with the twinkling stars and changing phases of the moon with many of the earth’s creatures asleep and the rest going about their night cycle of foraging. Now I steal a glance at the Full Moon outside my window and find comfort in the fact that change is happening whether I sleep or not.
So coming here, I am writing in the final days of 2020 when many folks brought out their reflecting telescopes, Newtonian telescopes and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, introducing or reintroducing their grandkids, children or even their inner child to the wonders of the night sky despite the freezing cold weather here in the East. I was not the only soul out on the beach, social distancing on the expanse of boardwalk with telescopes, binoculars and scopes. Believe me, you try and find a telescope to purchase during Dec18th through the 21st. Well guess what? I have still been outside maybe as an excuse to get some air and be able to dream even more heavenly dreams as we hopefully ascend into a new year. I always say I start the New Year sometime between Halloween and the Chinese New Year because January 1st usually is a let down. We are so happy to be done with 2020 but I am glad for the moments and decisions made. It was like traversing a psychological video game of our fears and the worst actually came true. Meditation and breathing became crucial and critical as a daily habit to maintain sanity. I finally understood what TV binge watching was. I watched sunsets religiously and grew to love my hawks from my urban balcony. I even saw a beautiful bald eagle fly past my window but didn’t report it in case it was checking out my neighborhood for its new home. I sadly left my views, my neighbors, my downtown stage and friends and now go tho the beach and listen to the waves and view the sunsets awaiting the other planets in the sky setting. There is always another dimension to look forward to...there is always a new song to sing.
“When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are”
“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”
...so dream on.