9-2-22, “I am eating breakfast on the patio, reading a good book, and enjoying the sunrise—another glorious day begins for me on the good Earth.” (from my journal). I decided to capture the moment with my smartphone. I often do my morning meditation—and some of my best thinking—in this setting.
As I looked at my backyard observatory, I felt a deep sense of gratitude that I was able to realize a lifelong dream by designing and building it years ago—and for the opportunities it has given me to explore the cosmos and introduce hundreds of people to my many “dear friends” in the starry sky.
Last week, I posted a thought (and narrative) from my book “Thoughts on Life and Living.” “Your talents are not for you alone—they belong to the world.” I closed that post with this line: “The greatest joy that can be derived from our individual talents comes from sharing them with others.”
Last evening, I hosted another group at my observatory (I really enjoy hosting “star parties” during the good-weather months). I quickly noticed that one person, a woman in her 30s, was way more engaged with the experience than anyone else—everything seemed to be fascinating to her. She carefully looked at the pictures on the wall of deep space objects I had taken and observatories I had visited—she was full of questions.
When I pulled up a map of the night sky on my large screen and demonstrated how I could click on any object and my telescope would slew to that object, she couldn’t get over how neat that was.
I have always loved showing the planet Saturn to people who have never looked through a telescope. The reactions are always fun to watch—oohs and aahs and claims of “It can’t be real—it looks too clear.” always abound. When it was this woman’s turn at the eyepiece, it was hard to pull her away so we could look at other objects. She must have spent over five minutes enjoying Saturn. Everyone was patient with her. That pattern continued with every subsequent object we viewed.
When the “Star Party” was over, this woman and her husband lingered in our living room to admire my large cabinet of mineral specimens from around the world. Then, she saw my basket of polished rocks. She asked if she could look at them. I told her she could and invited her to select a few to take home. (I enjoy polishing rocks so I can give them to people who come to visit.) This woman took about 20 minutes to carefully select the rocks she would take home with her—asking me questions about each possible candidate. Finally, she made her selections and she and her husband left.
As I sat in our then quiet living room, I thought about how much I had enjoyed the evening. I had shared my talents with others and had observed the great joy they had derived from my efforts—especially one young woman. I thought about her child-like wonder and remembered a favorite quote by the ancient, Chinese philosopher, Mencius: “The great man (woman) is he (she) who does not lose his (her) child’s heart.