Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cruising Town and the Cosmos

Since moving to Oxford in July, the girls have newly found the bed of the pick-up truck I have had for 12 years. When the speed limit is 25 (and you have checked with local law enforcement to make sure they are permitted to travel in the back of the truck) and the sun is shining, the bed of a pick up can feel a lot like a horse-drawn carriage. Cruising to the beach at the Strand, or to the park, or for ice cream at the Scottish Highland Creamery warrants Will Smith's "Summertime" for a soundtrack.

We've taken to different means and times for cruising the town. Longboarding to and from work has put a perma-grin on my face. Thirty years ago I rode my first skateboard down these same streets as a vagrant youth, now I wave and talk to folks skating to work. The symmetry is not lost on me.

Another new habit, rekindling an old wonder, is night walks, fully staring at the star-filled sky.

Life over the past year-plus has taken some unexpected turns. New houses, new jobs, new life in so many ways, but still connected to all that has come before and all that is still to come. Ava's return home from a month in the hospital; her return to school and seeing friends and family; life getting into a familiar, but new fall rhythm. When I walk under the sky, pondering constellations and the cosmos, the vast scale of it all and wondering how all the dots connect--what, if anything, my walk to the market for lunch has to do with the broader order of the Universe--it makes my mind both spin and sit still. So I've called in the experts, picking up Carl Sagan's "Cosmos," of which Neil deGrasse Tyson has done a documentary reboot; cultivating gratitude while walking, running, skateboarding, sitting, or going to church.

It's all a cosmic puzzle I doubt I will ever be able to put together. And I'm okay with that. Here's why...

I got off work on Wednesday and went for a run. At different points along the way, I stopped and took in the sunset, both visually and breathing it in. Taking pictures to remember it. Each scene was stretches of river and horizon I have seen countless thousands of times. But not once did any of those previous times look exactly like it did that evening, on that run. Maybe that is because those exact colors, and those exact scenes had never been assembled quite like they were just then. I think that is true. But equally true is that my eyes see differently now than they ever have before.