16 August, 2015
Things are looking up
My Nani (maternal grandmother) had just passed away. I was fifteen years old. I sat in the back garden. Hot tears streaming down my face. My Aaji (paternal grandmother) sat down beside me; “Nikita my darling, you must not cry…your Nani hasn’t left you…look up at the sun…that is where she lives now…the day you wake up and the sun isn’t there….then you can cry”.
That moment will be etched into my memory for as long as I live. Something shifted. Aaji’s words comforted me. I felt a strange sense of peace…when I missed her, all I had to do was look up at the sun.
Then the day came when my Aaji passed away. I remembered her words. Smiled. And looked up. I now had two grandmother’s ‘living’ in the sun.
Over the years it has become a habit.
When I am feeling….lost (mentally, but in most cases actually physically lost…) Full of joy. Confused. Overwhelmed. Grateful.
I always do the same thing. I look up at the sky.
Day or night. It doesn’t matter. I just look up.
However, I realise that this is not my habit alone – it seems to be somewhat universal.
An ancient reflex.
Before watches and weather channels, people just….looked up.
From praying to God to star gazing…we look up.
It is like the sky holds all the answers. I guess, here on earth we are surrounded by love and joy but also pain and suffering (even nature is not always nice) – life can all get a bit messy. BUT, the sky is pristine and expansive. Whilst the patterns of the clouds and planets may shift, every day and night the sun and moon engage in a predictable dance. Always. Unchanging. Reliable. (OK, maybe not in some of those sci-fi films).
Personally, I enjoy the lack of boundaries of the sky….the limitless nature. The sky is really the only free place left in our view of the world. No buildings, no opal cards, no dodgy alleyways etc.
We find innate comfort in the sky. It puts our daily quarrels and dramas into perspective. I guess life is essentially like the sky – we do not know exactly what is up there….just like we do not know exactly how our life will turn out.
Quite ironic, we take comfort in the unknown.
I have always been fascinated by space (you can read about it here), however I know exactly where this recent resurgence of ‘sky obsession’ has come from. Last week, I went on a tour at the Sydney Observatory. I’d been once before as a child, but this time is was different. It was a night I will never forget. I so completely engaged. Curiosity surged through my veins. I wanted to know eevveerrryything. I shoved a kid out of the way to peer into the telescope. I asked (atleast) 30 questions to the tour guide. I also felt compelled to write this piece after I attended, I thought I’d share it with you….…
We sat on a bench on the top of observatory hill. A full moon pregnant with possibility to one side, a burning orange sunset on the other. Our eyes were hungry…greedily darting to the moon and then back to the sunset. It felt like we were privy to one of nature’s private shows. As we stared into the vast sky, the worries of our day dissipated. The sky was an envelope of hope.
Unable to contain my excitement of the impending observatory tour, I confidently stated; “Wow, look at that red dwarf star” to which he replied; “No, Nix that is a plane heading West”. Oh. Directions have never been a strength of mine.
Observing the night sky in the dome. My mind spun circles, trying to fathom so many facts about our universe and planets. Sounds of ‘oohhh…wow…no way….’ sliding out of my mouth and up into the winter night sky. My eye focusing and squinting into the telescope. My minds eye unable to erase the image of Saturn’s rings. My breathing slowed….yet my heart beat a little faster as my brain attempted to compute our position in the universe.
Time suddenly seemed irrelevant. As humans, we love to measure time. How long have you been at this job? How long have you been dating? How long will you travel for?
But, does it really matter? Billions of stars. Billions of years. Billions of unanswered questions. Should we measure life by time…or by the intensity of our connections?
I guess the answers to those questions live up in the sky.
It is no wonder that popular culture and the music industry is overloaded with sky references. I actually just came up with an idea, I might even make a ‘Sky’ playlist….I can add The Beatles ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, Coldplay’s ‘Sky full of stars’, Kanye’s ‘Touch the Sky’…ok, now I am getting carried away.
See below for a collection of random images, which I believe capture the ‘essence’ of the sky…..
(image via life of the unemployed)
Like fairy floss.
(image via bookish bohemians)
(image via 500px)
Big sky state…Montana.
(image via wandering)
this is called the ‘moon illusion’ – I only just recently learnt that the moon is actually not bigger!
(image via infumous.tumblr)
(image via kappan)
what a pearl!!
(image via fastcodesign)
La Pedrera/ Casa Mila. Antoni Gaudi. Barcelona, Spain. 1905-10
(image via flickr)
a little Afghan refugee looks up at the sky….
(image via Paulrito)
(image via trendy)
Sorry – I couldn’t resist….one of my favourite scenes of all times (from one of my favourite movies)
(image via pinterest)
And here are is a cheesy quote to finish with….
I am off…going to have a quick look at the night sky before I hop into bed.