As adults, there are things we do to ease the heaviness of our lives. Coping mechanisms for shedding weight that years of living have layered on.
Some find their solace in following a recipe, while others are partial to riding horses. Some people roll spliffs, others are stamp-collectors. There are the road bikers, the surfers, the runners, the gamers, and the drug addicts. In appearance, these habits, these activities, are very different. Upon a closer look, you realize that these activities are all the same. We are, fundamentally, all the same.
All the way through junior year of college, my go-to life-lightener, the biggest stress-relief weapon in my arsenal, was stargazing. If I went outside with a comforter or sleeping bag, I was pulling out the big guns.
Whenever I happened upon an especially difficult time in my life, I would make it a point to become alone, and look up at the night sky.
Laying in the grass on my walk home from the pool in 5th grade. Watching fireworks in Assisi on a high school graduation trip. Curled up in a comforter in my front yard, about to go through a break-up, and leaving for a study abroad program in a few days.
Turning my face skyward, I reconnected with the rest of the world. Each time I did, I would remember, that like the night sky, the world is full of miracles. I remembered that there is something greater than I am, and I’m connected to it.
Carl Jung charted a map of the mind as having four functions: intellect, feeling, intuition, and sensation. Intellectually, I gain nothing when I look up at the stars. I feel something. I feel more connected. More aware of my place in this world. Intuitively, I feel like I’ve dipped back into the good stuff. Gotten my train back on its rails.
Anton Chekov said, “Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s this day-t0-day living that wears you out.” Here, Chekov gives expression to the heroism inherent in persevering through the day-to-day. He highlights a thread that ties us all together.
We all think we’re the only ones thinking the thoughts that we think. We think we’re the only ones who wade through fogs of doubt and confusion. The only ones who grow weary in the face of a plethora of daily demands, no matter how perfunctory.
Recognize yourself in others. When I looked up at the stars, I think there was a lot of wisdom in what I was doing. Intuitively, I felt reminded of my connection with others, with the world, when I directed my eyes towards the sky. I gain a similar feeling when I take photos of strangers. Its hard to break through the barrier of awkwardness, there’s always the possibility the person might say, “no.” But more often than not, that person is willing to help me, and I feel like the world has become a bit smaller.
Remind yourself today that you are not alone. And, at least I believe, there is a grand design in this world. There’s a place and plan for you. No matter how subtle.