Night Sky

He passed the night sitting wide awake, and eventually settled into a deep meditation as animals started to move about him, calling to one another: there was howling; there was hooting; there was grunting, snorting, and yelping. The latter sound unnerved him the most, for he was certain it was a coyote. He tried to ignore the nearby pitter-patter of footsteps veering toward him and then scurrying away.

The sky, filled with stars as he had never seen so clearly before, became his distraction. It made him dizzy, for it was such a vast sky—one which he had not had the privilege of bearing witness to even once in his life; not in its full splendor, no. Not straight through to its unfathomable depths: every dark point he focused on soon had a twinkling light emerge, almost hauntingly, like a ship appearing out of a fog. After confronting it—or being confronted by it, unsuspecting, as he had been—he was left to ponder two, deeply personal reactions, long into the night. He experienced finally, after straining every bit of himself toward comprehending its magnitude, both a crushing blow that he was so small and insignificant, and a soaring, nearly ecstatic wonder that he was a part of something so grand and stunningly obscure.

He sat with that for some time, those dueling reactions. Finally it seemed that he should embrace either the one conclusion or the other, without any lingering doubt, and allow that decision to determine to a large degree his attitude toward the fact of his being alive and here and witnessing all of this which he rarely felt as connected to as he did in that moment, and which hitherto he had merely considered abstractly, from time to time, when alone in his little room surrounded by books describing the social revolutions, the psychic inertias, and the economic constellations of a world which the city outside his apartment was ever ready to confirm, if ever he felt the urge to venture out into it. But he had just gone beyond those borders, hadn’t he, and out here the world expanded to accommodate all of the metaphysical mysteries he had ever read about, with a terrifying amount of space left over for those he had not yet dreamed of. Joseph, after an initial, meek swaying toward the first, finally settled upon that latter conclusion, that soaring wonder, as the night endured.

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