Luke Humphrey

Another night sleeping under the stars

The Milky Way appeared vividly over Little Tahoma and remained that way until it struck the summit crater. The moon had risen behind us from the east. It’s light overpowered the deeper stars and cast long shadows over the rocks surrounding our camp. The half moon accompanied by Jupiter looked like picture from a children’s book. Out here under the stars, my imagination pushed out the my temporary worries from daily life. The pale blue light and shadows cast across the landscape invoked emotions felt as a child listening to adventure stories set in make-believe worlds.

The light from a star, perhaps a billion years old from an extinct civilization, focused on my retina and sent signals via the optic nerve to my brain. Some brains have taken these signals and—motivated by their dreams inspired by this light—built space shuttles to take human beings to the moon, vehicles to mars, and spacecraft with cameras into deep space to bring back pictures of places humans may never visit. Others have built religious experiences and stories around their interpretation of the meaning this ancient light. These stories affected perspectives on the how to live and meaning of life for cultures across centuries.

A solitary light flashed from near Camp Shurman, someone was saying hello from above the Inter Glacier. We waited for the sound of massive ice blocks and rocks tumbling down the mountain and heard nothing. Tonight the mountain was unusually silent, except for the sound of a strong, warm wind moving across the rocky ridge where the sound of a shutter clicking every 30 seconds lulled me to sleep.

When our sun finally burns out, will someone a billion years from now—laying out under the stars—catch our star in their eye, a billion years gone, and think about who we were?

From my Tumblr blog:

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