Fumbling in the Darkness

I used to sleep under the stars.

The $2.99 glow-in-the-dark kind you can get at the science museum gift shop next to the astronaut ice cream.

My stars were hand-me-downs, though. Leftover from my brother, who stuck them on the ceiling in a few clusters. Which you couldn’t see in the light, only in the dark.

And long before I wore adult-sized shoes or voted or wondered how to measure a day well-lived, I slept in the top bunk of a bunkbed in my brother’s old room.

The light switch in that room was out of reach from the top bunk. So, at night, I’d hit the lights and in that room – now unknown and unfamiliar in darkness – I’d fumble around to the bunkbed ladder, climb up, lie down, look above me at the stars.

Those leftover stars were so good at ripping open the darkness. Darkness that’s full of things that are unknown, unfamiliar. And also full of things that are shining, I mean really shining, their hearts out.

And how easily we can miss those things if we live our lives in lit up rooms, tending to the known and the familiar.

Because there are things the world will only show us in darkness. Things that we have to risk fumbling around to find. Things like stars and lamplight and the width of our courage.

I don’t sleep under $2.99 stars anymore. But at the end of the day, if I look out the window into the night, I can see a few real McCoys shining their hearts out over Brooklyn.

And maybe that’s one measure of a day well-lived: Going to sleep under the stars knowing that we left the lit up rooms. And risked fumbling in the darkness.

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