Stars are glowing mysteries. Science and wonder collide in those incomprehensibly giant and mind-bogglingly ancient balls of fire that appear to little you and little me as tiny points of light.
They are countless. There are more stars than humans who have ever lived. A quick Google search tells me there are maybe “1 billion trillion” or “100 octillion” stars in the observable universe.
So it seems both fitting and misguided to me that we call people who have set themselves apart, people who dazzle us from dizzying heights, stars. If you can somehow distinguish yourself from the masses around you, maybe you too can rise and become a star.
Why are stars so remarkable when there are so very many of them, each shining its light out all through the universe? For all of human existence, we’ve been staring up at stars on clear nights, lost in wonder, drawn far beyond ourselves or deep within ourselves, like our parents and grandparents and distant ancestors long before us.
But you are remarkable too. And so am I. And our neighbors, and coworkers, and everybody who calls and tries to sell us something, and all the old people sitting in the assisted living place down the street. Every politician, every middle-schooler, every complaining customer and annoying coworker, every single life.
So be you, you bright star. Shine on.
And rest in peace, Prince.
The song I wrote for week 16 of #songaweek2016 has something to do with the above thoughts, but it’s still not all untangled for me. See what you can make of it:
Beautiful song, great comments as well…I would like offer one quibble: you wrote that in stars “science and wonder collide….” I think there is never a collision here, but instead wonder blooms continuously and endlessly from scientific discovery, maybe in no place more than our study of starlight. We know from science that without stars there would be no heavy elements…it takes nuclear fusion only possible in a star to produce them…and the heaviest elements are only created in the collapse of some super massive stars that then explode as supernovae, thereby seeding the universe with materials for things like solar systems. And of course at least one solar system has a planet on which life arose, life now capable of understanding its own starry origin! Life that occasionally produces human “stars” on the level of Prince! “We are stardust” is more than a great lyric: it is an exhilarating, “wonderous” fact. And I think this fact dovetails perfectly with your comments about stars being simultaneously singular and noteworthy, as well as ubiquitous. With regard to Prince, yes he was a “star,” more than most stars he was a singularity…but it is a happy thought to know that he was made of the same stuff as me, and his atoms, like mine, and like every human that ever lived, are destined to be reshuffled and repurposed till the end of the universe, some 30 billion years hence. These thoughts, to me at least, make the old spiritual “wonder” seem paltry and ridiculous…Anyway, great song and great post.
Okay, quibbled point taken. I do agree with and prefer your “blooming from” idea. And everything else you said – I am consistently astounded and floored by the things I learn from studying science, specifically cosmology. Even though I feel like I grasp only a small percentage of what I read.
And it always leads me to deeper wonder. Because the more we learn and understand, the far smaller we and our world appear. And at the same time that we can better explain processes and origins and physical laws *within* the framework of our universe, the whole cosmos itself just becomes – in my estimation – more of a mystery, not less. Okay, yes, we can explain a lot about what’s happening and how it’s happening, but, really, what IS it? What is any of this? And where are the edges? And if there are edges, what’s beyond them? Because isn’t there always something beyond the edges? And isn’t there always something smaller than the smallest thing we’ve discovered, and isn’t there always something larger than the largest?
And yes, I too love to think about the reshuffling of atoms and the connection that all things share in this way.
Thanks for faithfully listening and reading and commenting and thinking along with me through this blog!