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Star-Hunting off the Grid, Day 140

November 11, 2010


Milky Way Road Trip in Turkey

Photo by Tunç Tezel

Despite good friends and heightened activity, a day of depression always seems to find me when the weather turns cold and especially if I’ve had one myself, in the form of a virus. In the city, it always strikes me as funny when I feel alone surrounded by a sea of people. In a more rural or suburban setting, it surprisingly feels no different. Shockingly, my occasional loneliness and depression heals and dissipates only when I make the time to get away and actually be alone.


Photo by Abigail Wright

On my first free weekend in the Tri-Cities, I traveled to Portland and stopped to smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden. That, plus some good jazz, a night alone, and a long drive back and forth through scenic Mt. Hood gave me the sanity to last a couple of weeks of rehearsal time away from home. Although my trip to Seattle didn’t provide too much alone time, the drive and the change of scenery the following week definitely helped too.  Getting sick last weekend did not.

Last night, feeling out of sorts and needing a pick up, I found myself charmed by the stars into driving a mere fifteen miles past my homestay to return to Coffin Road and sit alone to enjoy some meteors and the Milky Way. Approximately five miles into the trip however, I suddenly couldn’t see more than a couple of hundred feet in front of me. Enter foggy dust storm? Well, this is new. Checking into Foursquare with my location set to “off the grid” felt like a huge understatement.

After a little faith and some persistence, I decided to pull off at the Coffin Road exit as planned, hoping by some miracle to happen upon a clearing from the storm. One easy mile later, the heavens opened, and I stood in awe at the universe I so rarely get to sit and inhale. Somehow, this simply complex reminder of our origins from stardust juxtaposed with the startlingly clear sky in the middle of a dust storm settled my heart and stripped my ego of its need to feel important. Today, surrounded by friends from the moment I leave my bedroom, I feel a little less lonely and remember one of my favorite speeches by Ellie, Jodie Foster‘s character, from the movie Contact:

“I was given something wonderful. Something that changed me. A vision of the universe that made it overwhelmingly clear just how tiny and insignificant – and how rare and precious we all are. A vision… that tells us we belong to something greater than ourselves… that we’re not -that none of us – is alone. I wish I could share it.  I wish everyone, if only for a moment – could feel that sense of awe, and humility… and hope. That continues to be my wish.”

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