“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
– Carl Sagan
We’ve all looked up at the stars before, but it’s so easy to forget about them.
When I used to have an office job, I loved my walk home from the train station when it got dark early in winter. I had the privilege of an unspoilt nighttime panorama with Orion above me.
Now, I try to sit out on my balcony at night, or just look out the window after I turn the lights off. I sit, admire, and ponder. It’s my nightly free therapy session. Sometimes I need a reminder to do it and pay full attention, but when I do, it’s absolutely worth it.
As BJ Miller says in Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans:
“When you are struggling with just about anything, look up. Just ponder the night sky for a minute and realize that we’re all on the same planet at the same time. As far as we can tell, we’re the only planet with life like ours on it anywhere nearby. Then you start looking at the stars, and you realize that the light hitting your eye is ancient, [some of the] stars that you’re seeing, they no longer exist by the time that the light gets to you”.
“Just mulling the bare-naked facts of the cosmos is enough to thrill me, awe me, freak me out, and kind of put all my neurotic anxieties in their proper place. A lot of people—when you’re standing at the edge of your horizon, at death’s door, you can be much more in tune with the cosmos”.
Ed Cooke, the Memory Champion and Co-founder of Memrise (who I’ve been so impressed by for years), also shares something similar in Tools of Titans:
“I’d just think, ‘Oh, everything feels terrible and awful. It’s all gone to shit.’ Then I’d [consider], ‘But if you think about it, the stars are really far away,’ then you try to imagine the world from the stars. Then you sort of zoom in and you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s this tiny little character there for a fragment of time worrying about X’“.
Looking up at the stars and thinking about our place in the cosmos doesn’t come with a price tag. If you can see the sky it’s accessible, and you don’t need to do anything to turn the stars on. You don’t even need to travel. All you need is a clear enough day and the motivation to go or look outside.
The stars are one of nature’s finest beauties and they’re just out there waiting for us to admire them.