I am spoiled. I live in the most beautiful part of Ontario that offers an abundance of stunning scenery, unending lakes and breathtaking landscapes. There are moments that I’m sure I take it for granted but most of the time I remind myself how fortunate I am to be living in such a paradise.
And with all of the beauty that presents itself during the daylight hours, the sun pulls up the blanket of the horizon and the night-time emerges to share its splendor. The nocturnal winter creatures echo their cries into the vast blackness and the stars tentatively begin to dot the evening sky in their familiar patterns.
The spectral portrait of twinkling lights is awe-inspiring and, if the skies are clear, it is something we are lucky enough to see every night. I forget that city dwellers are not as blessed because their sight lines are lost in a jungle of concrete, street lamps and high rises.
Looking back a few years I was fortunate enough to be in Toronto in August of 2003 when the lights went off across the Eastern Seaboard. Yes I said fortunate and I was in many ways. I was staying with friends at Yonge and Sheppard and was to meet more friends for dinner at Yonge and Eglinton. I was supposed to take the subway but was short on time and took a cab instead. It escaped my attention through the first few intersections that the street lights were extinguished and, as we sailed through block after block, we began to assimilate to the slowing of traffic and the lack of store lights. The city was getting dark. Had I been taking the subway I would have been trapped in a blackened metal tomb as opposed to looking in wonder at a bustling city slowing to a crawl in almost complete darkness.
The barbeque dinner was fun and certainly memorable but the most remarkable part of the night was the masses of people on the sidewalks staring up at the night sky after the sun had set. The stars that I see on a regular basis were seen by so many eyes for what seemed like the first time. They stood in complete reverence and the sound of silence descended on a city known for its bedlam and pandemonium. The constellations brought peace to a city of calamity.
Strangers on the street that may have passed each other numerous times without a second glance were now sharing a small piece of the sidewalk, but not only that, they were sharing a small piece of heaven. Those stars, no matter which province, which country or which hemisphere we are in, connect us.
That Eastern Seaboard blackout was a moment of serendipity – a fortunate accident that allowed many to gaze upon the panorama of stars that would otherwise be oblivious to them. It seemed to bring a sense of peace and fellowship to a city so bent on individuality and alienation. I didn’t know that in that moment under the same starry sky that I sometimes take for granted that I could appreciate my life that much more. Since that fortuitous experience I make it a point to look at those stars as often as I can.
On the nights that we are fortunate to have a clear sky, I always take a moment to stand in the darkness, regardless of the temperature, and wish with childlike abandon that I will see a shooting star. Carpe noctem – seize the night, seize all of the wonder it has to offer and make sure to wish on that falling star.
What would your wish be?