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Word Art: Moons, Stars, Comets and Other Possibilities

As I’ve mentioned, when making Word Art I pencil in the boundaries before I begin writing, so I can shape the words accordingly.  I’d wanted to do one about a night sky, and so I penciled in a crescent moon and some stars and took to writing in that general direction.  Somewhere in the middle of it, I whipped out my pencil and added another shape to work around, based on what I’d been writing.  It’s the first and thus far only time I’ve done that with my work.

Moons, Stars, Comets and Other Possibilities

Moons, Stars, Comets and Other Possibilities

We are no longer afraid of the night.

The darkness cone warded off by fire is now warded off by electric lights that we do not even control.

We pay a price for this.

The safety of lights on the ground come with the loss of the sacredness of the lights in the sky.

Stars have been reduced to a few distinct points where they were once beyond our ability to count.

If you approach the city at night from the sky, then the effect is reversed, as the lights glimpsed from the airplane seat become constellations crowded with glow.

We may not have breached Heaven with the Tower of Babel but we did manage to shout out the stars with the lights from our skyscrapers.

So many stars we can’t even see, even in isolation with the lights out.

We have amplified our eyes to gaze deeper into the cosmos and seen more than the first earthbound stargazers could ever imagine.

(And yet those who insist on a strict biblical 7-day version of how all life came to be are a bit less vocal when it comes to astronomical science. Why is that?)

The sky at night has long fascinated us.

Granted, this may be in part because it gives us more to look at than the daylit sky does.

(Though you can’t do much with shapes in the clouds by moonlight.)

The sun does not burn our eyes when it is so cooled by the moon’s reflection.

Before we had the full picture, we thought the lights of the sun and the moon were separate sources.

Now we know that the light for both flows from a single point in space.

Even some of the stars we see in the sky are even more reflected light–the ones we call planets.

All other stars, as far as we know, are suns.

They are suns so far distant that the light that reaches us first flared from their surfaces in a past far too distant to comfortably think of.

We (some of us, at least) chart our courses by those distant lights.

Long before the days of GPS, a potential method of tracking the longtitude [sic] of ships at sea was by the position of the stars.

(The clocks won the race in the end.)

Those who aren’t of the nautical bent can still be the sort to chart a course by the stars.

This has been done before we even knew where the light of the stars truly came from.

Enough eyes watched to track the changes as the seasons progressed and ascribe qualities to those changes.

Some still hold to those primitive predictions, as diluted as they have been by modern sensibilities.

We trust others to watch the skies for us, to remind us when there is something remarkable to be seen.

The streaks of light that appear in the night sky at intervals that stretch lifetimes rather than months were once seen to herald portents of the future.

Now we see them coming so that they become the item predicted rather than the sign of what is to come.

The last people that we know of to have used such a light as a portent ended tragically indeed.

Sometimes a tiny light streaks across the sky so suddenly it cannot even be predicted.

These lights are only heralded when they come as a crowd, like an approaching army.

Even then, we know now exact positions, merely the time and place to expect them.

We await randomness on a schedule.

Those are the best ones to wish on, the flashes of serendipity that remind you that something amazing can always come out of nowhere.

They happen just as frequently by day, but the sun overwhelms them so we are blind to their final blaze of glory as they strike the air and find it more substantial than we normally consider it.

These tiny periodic miracles are merely debris in the void rendered transcendent.

They are neither suns nor planets but the detritus of the void in between.

And by their instability and rarity they are rendered precious to us.

The more difficult if becomes to predict an event, the more securely we tie that event to the web of fate in our minds.

(Rationalists may scoff, but rationalists no doubt had to work extremely hard lest their human instincts to seek pattern in the random overwhelm their cultivated judgment.)

Detecting cycles requires a long period of observation to reveal.

Long enough to see the cycle once, at the very least, or more to see the variations of the theme.

(How many cycles did we have to see before those who tracked the stars in the sky noticed that some of them wandered back and forth in most peculiar ways?  Who was the first to see Halley’s Comet before Halley?)

(I myself have witnessed Halley’s Comet once in my life as I write these words.

I hope that time and fate will so bless me that I may witness it again.

If fate is kind, it yet may be possible–I was still but a teenager when it last appeared in our skies.

I saw it on a lonely stretch of Arizona highway with my parents and younger brother.

First time I recall seeing stars undimmed by the lights of the city.

I’d never really seen the Milky Way before, that I could so recall.

My mother even said that she hadn’t seen that many stars since she lived on the farm she grew up on.

My father tried to track the comet’s position by the calculations of science.

My brother used his eyes and said “Isn’t that it over by the telephone pole?”)

Yeah, I know, what’s with the parentheses?  Since I am making this stuff up as I go along, I can wind up on parenthetical tangents that sometimes don’t even get closed until I’m transcribing them and notice that I need to whip out the pen and make a few corrections.  (Ahem.)

The “stars” came out a little murkier than I would have liked, but it gives me a clearer idea of how small I can go in terms of whitespace and still be visible.  This one was started at one of my nights at The Glenwood and I finished it at Thrive where a band called The Roys had some kind of reunion show.

“The clocks won in the end” makes more sense if you’ve read the book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel.  Which, by the way, you really should.

Prints of this work are no longer available.

The original is not for sale.

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