Amidst the starry sky

My MUWCI dreams always repeat themselves: the wet Monsoon filled with tattered leaves and mudded feet; the magnificent sunset scene against the background of consecutive mountains and little villages; the blurry white view of pouring summer rain from the end of a deserted swimming pool. And the cloudless, crystal-clear, star-filled Indian sky.

Every summer night, zillion of stars would rise, sparkle, twinkle, enlarge, then fall on top of the roof, next to the valley, by the swimming pool, up the AQ hill, and on the Wada’s open stairs. When the night got darker and the lights were all out, stargazing felt like floating in a different universe.

I continued longing for stars even after high school. At Brown, I found myself for so many times staring for hours at the sky, on my way back from the late-night shifts. But I gave up in disappointment every time at the sporadic spots of almost-stars outshone by milliard city-lights.

Darkness is everything in stargazing, so I was glad to finally get to Barrington Beach, only 15 minute drive from the city, to return right back to that magical universe. A rush of emotions ran over me as I once again stargazed: wonder and doubt, curiosity and frustration, unease and peace.

Wonder. Stars are the most ancient storytellers in the world. As some stars are thousand or even million of lightyears away , the sky as we see now is actually the sky of a very distant past — before us, or even before our Earth. Some stars might have died a long time ago, yet we still see them. The stars tell us the stories of the past that we would never otherwise know.

Doubt. The concept of constellations is in fact a little misleading: some of the stars belonging to the same constellations are in fact nowhere near each other; while some stars that look insignificantly small are actually thousand times bigger and hotter than our Sun.

Curiosity. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, nothing in this universe can move faster than the speed of light. Yet, if time becomes a 4th dimension, making us able to travel faster than light, time would turn backwards, exploding us all (not ideal!). At the same time, we are almost certainly sure, that our Earth is not the only place in this gigantic and continually expanding universe where exist perfect conditions for life. The question is: will we ever find them?

Frustration. There is always part of the sky that we will never see, as well as stars that we will always see (called circumpolar) due to where we are. As all places I’ve been to and lived in have been in the Northern hemisphere, I have never seen stars that only show in the Southern sky.

Unease and peace. Every night when I look at the sky trying to find the answer for my very existence in the universe, the stars nonchalantly look back at me as though to remind me how small and insignificant I am. Yet, so are all my earthly sorrow, pains or sadness. Thought I might never find out all the answers, I’m just simply glad to be born out of the stardusts of this planet and to be now wondering and pondering the meaning of its existence, and that of mine.

Originally published at on May 8, 2010.

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