I kissed a dolphin. I saw the Milky Way whisk its cloudy streak across a millions of light-years away starry sky. I sat in awe of goddess Pele’s volcano billowing redness into the deep blackness that is a Hawaiian night. All this in the final days of 2010. I was fortunate enough to go to Hawaii during Christmas week to attend a conference and present there a psychological perspective on the Stieg Larsson trilogy.
For this I am grateful. Ah, but I am back. Now I look up at the night sky where stars are hiding behind the light pollution of the Eastern seaboard, and where we walk the earth forgetting that deep below its crust is a fiery molten core. So easy to lose ourselves in the everydayness of our lives. Of course, we need to focus on our daily needs just so we can keep afloat, keep alive. Yet we also need, from time to time, to be in awe of the vastness of our universe. And to know we are not in control. We cannot control Mother Earth’s volcanic eruptions; we cannot dominate the galaxies or the earth, for that matter. The paradox is that recognizing how little any of us really control—no matter how wealthy, how royal, how bright, how famous—and recognizing how minute we all are in the grand scale of things helps level the playing field.
In such an infinite universe, we, each individual human being, is cast into the world as our own unique star. There is not one of us that is like another. Snowflakes hold no truck with us in the realm of diversity. So perhaps the 2011 reflection here is for each of us to ponder how we are unique, ponder what our particular meaning for being here is. Perhaps we all can ask, What is it that I want to see happen in my life, year 2011? I’m not talking about making it onto “Dancing with the Stars”—you, I, we, all are stars. Saint Therese (not the big Therese of Avila, but the little Therese of Lisieux) was content to mop a kitchen floor and let that be her way to shine.
We lose our luster when we project our own glitter onto someone else’s glory. What if your reflection this year were to let your own star shine. Unlike the heavenly constellations, your glow is not millions of light-years away, but is within and in this moment now.