This I Believe

Collin - Northfield, Minnesota
Entered on April 19, 2006

“A Common Thread”

I don’t need to remind anyone that the world can be a stiflingly uptight place. Even as I try to collect these thoughts on paper, I’m hunched over a laptop in a tiny dormitory of a frantic college residence hall, where my friends and colleagues are frantically shoveling the last heaps of academic minutiae into their over-packed brains. Yes, it’s mid-term week! Sleep is low and tempers are high, so take care and tread softly in these halls.

Unfortunately, there are bigger problems throughout the world than exams, and one must only glance at the day’s headlines to receive a taste of war and tragedy. Many don’t even care to keep up with the news, lest they become completely desensitized. However, as my mind and eyes wander to my room’s window, something catches my eye. Something that’s always there, yet seldom noted—the velvet night sky, with glittering stars spilling across the expanse of space. I often forget to observe the stars, but when one takes a closer look, there are many features which I believe are highly telling about the human experience.

First, there are the simultaneous senses of awe and smallness. There’s a bigger universe beyond our personal universes, which sometimes seem to close in and suffocate our lives. In a stark contrast, Hubble’s law intones that the universe is actually uniformly expanding, which might help us to breathe a little easier—we have the room to do so!

Secondly, the night sky suggests, to me, a high sense of order. I’m not a “math person,” but the double-helix shape is rarely found in nature; its most famous manifestation is in strands of DNA, which serve as the genetic blueprints to specify the biological development in all cellular forms of life. Recently, another double-helix shape was spotted by scientists—this one an eighty light-years-long nebula. No matter how chaotic my life might seem or how “nebulous” the world might seem, my seeing the building blocks of life mirrored in outer space is too much of a coincidence for me to ignore. There must be some sort of order in the world, and, by the look of the bigger picture, things seem to be pretty well-together.

Finally, after a spell of star-gazing, my thoughts return to the people and places on the ground, my family and friends. My loved ones go to sleep under this same sky every night, and, even more, so does everyone on earth. For all our differences, we are all sharing the human experience under the firmament, and so we possess a common strain that wires us together, even in the darkest times. We’ll make mistakes and we’ll get into arguments, but we breathe the same air, exist with the same anima, and live together on this little marble of a planet.

Judging by the ageless beauty of the stars, things will be all right.