I’ve been organising my files on my PC, since they were getting quite unruly after all these years, and I came across something I wrote in 2014. While I was reading it, I distinctly recalled the way I had felt in that moment; the quiet of the night, the hue of the sky, that particular star I could see from my desk; the kind of hope that you can only feel after too many hours awake and ruminating on your place in the world.
I don’t think I ever posted it, because I don’t think I considered it worth reading. But having stumbled across it now, I quite like it, so I’m sharing it here.
Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I find myself staring out my window at one particular star. It isn’t the brightest one in the sky, but it is there, night after night, flickering wildly. I watch it flicker, and every night I think ‘will this be the night that it flares and dies?’
But no, the night that it flares and dies is many millions of years ago, probably. Probably, it will continue to flicker in the night sky, looked upon by my great great great grand nieces and nephews. Looked upon by people on other planets in our solar system, or from within the sparse atmosphere of space.
Every time I look at that star, I think, does it flare brightly to prove its existence? Is it crying ‘look at me! I am here! I burn bright and fierce! I am alive!’
Or does it flicker with uncertainty? ‘I am here. I know who I am. Could I be more? Am I bright enough? Does anybody see me?’
Does it flicker in the face of death? Defiant? Fighting against the darkness, losing strength, desperately clinging to existence?
What kind of star is it?
Why should it stand out to me, surrounded as it is by other stars in an overfull sky and yet so removed from every one of them?
But it always comes down to this:
It doesn’t matter what kind of star it is. It doesn’t matter that it is alone in its patch of sky. It doesn’t matter if it fights death, or burns with life, or flickers with uncertainty; it still shines, a tumultuous, violent flame that blinks small but bright in distant skies. If you look, you can still see it, and it is still a star. And when it dies, flares up one last time and its echoes finally reach our skies, it will still have been a star.
And a star is an astonishing and miraculous thing to be.