You know why I love stars? Well, there are a lot of reasons. Stars remind me of warm, summer nights, which I live for nearly all year long. They remind me to dream, make wishes and wonder. I love when they fall from the sky, leaving streaks of light behind them that disappear in a moment. We’ve all experienced that. And when we’re with others, it seems our jaws always drop, our hearts beat a little faster, and we ask our friends, “Did you see that?!” There’s just something magical about stars.
It’s at night, when the stars are out, that we light fireworks, go to drive-in movies, cook food over campfires and fall asleep in sleeping bags. When the moon is out, snow can sparkle, and hiking trails are lit enchantingly as we walk up hills, breathing in the fresh air.
One of my favorite memories beneath the stars in recent years took place on the island of Kauai. Four of us camped on the beach, the waves swaying back and forth, back and forth next to us. And when I looked into the sky, I’d never seen so many stars. I wanted to hold that picture for as long as I could before my eyes became too heavy and I drifted away. It was cold that night and my friend and I woke up a few times. We just kept looking at those stars. What a scene.
A couple years in a row, that same friend invited a few of us to go to a rodeo and camp at a pond by her house. I loved those nights. After we watched the horses and bulls and cowboys, we slept on the grass, laughing at each other until we got too tired and our conversations slowed down to silence and dreams.
I remember struggling through a hard time one winter a few years ago and going skiing with a bunch of college kids one night. It was so pretty that night, the snow falling as we went up the lift, the trees dressed in white blankets. I made a new friend that night. Sometimes the night provides those moments.
That same friend took me to the canyon one night to build a fire and cook fish. Well, the fish actually started on fire and were burned to a crisp, but for some reason, it was still some of the best fish I’ve ever eaten because of the company and the escape from the things I was going through.
Whenever I want to think, driving at night seems to do the trick. I love long highways, the stars, my music, my car and nothing else. Sometimes that’s just what I need to figure things out for a while.
One of my favorite races I’ve ever participated in took place partly overnight. It was a 24-hour team relay and my favorite moment was running around midnight in Morgan, Utah, the stars so shiny it was hard to be anything but grateful to be alive … and part of this really fun team moment.
People come together at night. They laugh and they cry. They talk of their dreams, maybe drink wine, maybe snack on something delicious. I can’t remember how many times my friends and I used to drive to McDonald’s or the grocery store late at night, just to come, eat and share quality time.
Last year in Albuquerque, there were a few amazing lightning storms at night. I’d never seen anything like it. My husband and I, engaged at the time, sat my the window and watched for an hour. Lightning struck in every direction. It was almost scary, but overwhelmingly amazing. Even after we finally decided to go to bed, I continued watching the show from our room. I’d close my eyes and could still see the flashes. The sky, the clouds, the stars, the storms … they do wondrous things together.
I’m the type of person who always makes wishes on stars, so in that way, stars are a thing of hope. But they are also perspective. Stars remind me that I’m small. I read on any given dark, moonless night, we are only able to see a couple thousand stars at best, but there could be up to 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone. Where are all the others?
Right now, I’m living in an apartment with a nice view of the mountains, sky and sunsets. And I’m like everyone else, a little star in a great, big universe.