Category Archives: Visual Delights

The Mastery of the Universe

Perseid meteor shower in Austin Texas.

Perseid meteor shower in Austin Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I lay in bed on Saturday night happy and exhausted…. then something caught my eye. I knew there was a meteor shower predicted for Sunday night/Monday morn but the visual spectacular that greeted me on Saturday was soo good that it felt like the astronomers had purposefully misled the wider public so they could enjoy it all to themselves or somesuchthing! The streaks were huge and long and bright bright bright. I must have seen a dozen in half an hour!! I had the optimum location too…. lying on my back in my bed, watching the show. These weren’t the little zip zip type shooting stars, no we’re talking huge, long fireworks…. I was a little surprised I couldn’t hear a whoosh! There was a ‘Star Wars battle’ style to the whole show.

I love how spectacles of this kind bring out the imagination, superstition and awestruck child in me. For a few minutes it is easy to understand how all the beliefs in the world could have arisen. During that time I feel as if I can connect with ancestors and gain a fraction of understanding. To have encountered visions such as these with no scientific understanding or prior warning? That surely would have induced a feeling of insignificance, fear…and wonder, in humans far beyond that when facing a dangerous wild animal or other earthly surprise. Part of me wants to maintain the night skies in a similar vein to Father Christmas for my future children, if I’m lucky enough to have any. “I don’t know what it is darling… what do you think?” I don’t want to just plunge into scientific explanations.

I believe wholeheartedly in education. I also believe wholeheartedly in ignorant wonder.

Learning everything from books and teachers is efficient and important but learning from experience is joy.

I truly hope the generation of kids growing up in front of screens are able to foster an imagination and enjoy mystery and surprise. I hope the world is still full of wonder for them even if they are able to access seemingly everything in that world from their bedrooms. Imagination is what removes the ties that bind, the rules that govern and the facts that restrict. For a few hours I indulged in ignorant wonder… then the next day it was all written down in the news: Science science complicated words statistics blah blah

No wonder none of my friends seemed to give a toss. I tried to enthuse them! They weren’t intrigued or delighted at the prospect because some drivelling expert had removed all the wonder. No disrespect but it’s all in the delivery.

My headline would have read: Rare and mind-blowing experience available tonight: Strange and wonderful light display in the sky…. set in the most stunning and infinite HD backdrop ever witnessed! Stop everything and view the majestic freebie!

The whole world should have been on it’s back looking heavenwards. Floored by the enormity. Except of course most folk were either tucked up in bed, zombified in front of the tv or computer, or inebriated and incapable.

Well, I saw it. It was mind-expanding, surprising, inspiring and highly memorable. It was also impossible to capture on a phone or digicam or anything else. No, you had to use your own eyes and just enjoy it… well apart from the techno-supremes of the star-gazing community… but it is never the same reproduced, never the same at all.

No amount of technology will offer the depth or breadth of definition that human eyes can offer after 20 minutes or so in the dark looking skywards. I don’t care what anyone says.

I feel refreshed, reinvigorated, rejuvenated, inspired and humbled… and as if my world has expanded once more. I feel that frisson of ‘there’s bigger things in life than war, politics, corruption and dictatorship… more powerful than financial markets and latest tech… more awe-inspiring than million pound artworks and purpose-built mansions…’ Thank Goodness!!! We live in a global village, yes, but we are arrogant not to remember that it is one microscopic hamlet in the infinite sprawling metropolis of galaxies.

The universe has cleaned my palate for life… and put me in my place

Truly, the most wonderful things in life are (or should be – Monsanto) free to us all.

My only little niggle is that I met a lad recently who has never seen the stars. What a magnificent opportunity that would have been…