On November 17 at around 4AM, I witnessed a meteor shower for the first time. Every November, the Leonid Meteor Shower occurs, scattering hundreds of stars among the skies for eager, waiting eyes to see. At 3:30AM, my friends and I bundled ourselves up with layers of clothes to combat the cold and trekked over to the Arb to lie down on the grassy fields and stare up at the skies, waiting in anticipation for the streaks of fire that would burn across the ashen sky.
As the ten of us sprawled on the grass and listened to music streaming from a friend’s iPod Touch, I lay in silence, looking up at the sky sprinkled with constellations that I typically can never see nor notice, and that, I am sure, most people can never see nor notice. It’s funny that stars are constantly surrounding us and they are consistently present in our lives, without fail, due to the sciences of nature and the solar system, yet a lot of us hardly realize or recognize these brightly shining spots in our lives.
Art is not always considered to be things of beauty, especially with the realization that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but after seeing these blazing balls of flame tearing across the night sky, it made me wonder if the one thing that is always beautiful would be nature. People can vary on their views of physical beauty, of “artistic beauty”, but I feel that it is cultural-wide, this notion of nature as beauty. Maybe the one thing that is always beautiful in our eyes is that which we can never escape. Nature always encompasses us, our small human selves, in this great expanse of the world, and whenever we are approached by the awesomeness of the natural, we encounter the sublime and we tremble and we are affected by something so intangible and inexpressible, but something we recognize to be beautiful.
Indeed, that early, dark morning, with the entire, never-ending skyline looming above us as we lay, each linked to the other in testament to our friendship and the closeness of our emotional ties with each other, as we ‘oohed and ahhed’ over the various constellations and the fast-moving snippets of meteors entering our atmosphere, I was yet again struck by the beauty of it all. The beauty of the stars, the sky, the trees, the grass, but perhaps most importantly, I was struck by the beauty of the mere moment. This precious hour when people who love each other and enjoy each other’s companies gather together to partake in a moment that is once-in-a-lifetime and so breathtakingly beautiful. Maybe it will happen again next year, maybe not. But this year, it happened, and painted such an amazing picture in my memory, one that I am sure to never forget.
Gabby Park is a triple concentrator in Communication Studies, French, and History of Art and enjoys lying on the grass to look up at the stars.