So I was challenged to start a blog, but blogs are lame so I just went through the motions and tried to forget I had ever so foolishly tried to put something new into the world. But then something strange happened: A death.
Death can knock things loose, like too much coffee. Death can overrun obstructions and start a stopped up passage flowing as ALL inevitably does. I had recently had enough of death or so I presumed and was busily rearranging my emotional furniture to accommodate all the new empty spaces (trying out new rituals, remaking old traditions, reinforcing family bonds, etc.) and then this other death comes along into the life of a close friend and knocks his life loose, to which I was just a bystander. Of course, each death is remarkable in and of itself within the context of close family and friends, but this one knocked loose an object that would tumble it's way along a circuitous route into the path of my life, changing me hopefully forever.
It was a telescope!
Now let me assure you dear reader, growing up in the East Valley of Arizona I was no stranger to the night sky. I knew Orion always came around near my birthday in the fall, I still sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to myself skating around the neighborhood at night and as a teenager of the 1990's I regularly perused Hubble images in books in the local library. But really I was a dilettante. A dabbler at best. I remember many a TV/movie scene of teenage boys' rooms with the small white telescope on a cheap tripod pointed at a suspiciously low angle towards the neighbor's teenage daughter's window and so never fully realized just how accessible amateur astronomy was to the lay person and what was available for observation other than the occasional pervy peepshow. I somehow missed Hale-Bopp, had never been to an observatory, and by 16 had convinced myself of a math/physics phobia. I wasn't a science person.
But science doesn't really care too much about the stories we tell ourselves, our delusions. Science doesn't tell you to be a certain thing or believe a certain thing - science invites YOU to perform an experiment. And so by a sad coincidence my grieving friend and I set up his dearly departed father's small Meade ETX-60 reflector telescope on the balcony of our shared apartment in foggy Long Beach, CA and pointed it straight at the moon. We saw craters large and small with deep curved shadows and central peaks, we saw dark lava bed seas and jutting mountain ranges. Somehow without any fancy iPhone apps, laser pointers or star charts we also happened upon another fateful sight that night: Saturn, the lord of the rings, long famed for seducing noobs into the all-consuming hobby.
I spent some time comprehending just how 1) I was lucky enough to be able to view these bodies of the solar system directly from my front porch and 2) how I had never seen any of this stuff before! I was grateful and pissed at the same time. A similar aftertaste to my time at university.
At that moment I knew I had finally found something to share. Something to blog about. Something to change my life. So here's to that old bitch, Death - for knocking things loose and giving me a whole new perspective through the fog and light pollution from my quiet little balcony in Long Beach.
And what's that old saying?
"Coincidences are what you have left over when you've applied a bad theory."