A bright light streaked across my vision. It flared and winked out almost before I had time to even register its existence. I smiled and closed my eyes, breathing deeply as I made a secret wish to myself.
Opening my eyes again, I stared into the indigo blue of the midnight sky. Stars shimmered and twinkled, shining even more brightly due to the moon’s absence this night. They looked almost alive. As if they were watching me as much as I lay there admiring them.
Despite their twinkling curiosity, I imagined they did not pass judgment or harbor any feelings towards me, or anyone else for that matter. They have been shining for generations before me and will continue to shine for many, many generations after. My life, to them, was as fleeting as the shooting star I wished upon.
I sighed. How many others had stared up at these far away lights to ponder the brevity of life? Surely, I was not the only one. No. I knew I was not the only one. However, I became curious how many others might be doing the same at that very moment. How many souls stared into the heavens wishing for more time, wishing to perhaps be one of those twinkling stars that live for eons.
Even those stars must expire some time, though. Perhaps some already had and we had yet to see the light of their death reach us through the emptiness of space. Everything dies. All we can hope for is that our death will bring rebirth. That our molecules will become one again with the universe and sustain further life.
Would there be life?
I watched as the wispy shadow of a cloud traversed over the velvety fabric of the sky, blocking some of the stars momentarily before it continued on its way.
I hoped there would be life. Infinite worlds across infinite space. There must be life somewhere. We could not be the only planet to have developed such a precious existence. It was too bad I would never know for sure. I would never know what wonders the universe held outside our tiny sliver of a solar system.
There was a sound somewhere to my left, a large animal perhaps moving through the brush. I could hear a twig snap and snorting as whatever it was sniffed its surroundings. I didn’t bother trying to look. It was too dark to see, even with so many stars shining their light. I listened as the thing pawed the ground and began to move away. Things grew still again and silence drifted down like a comforting blanket.
I envied the passing creature. I envied it for its ignorance and innocence. It lived to survive. Eat, sleep, procreate, and try not to become something else’s meal. I doubted it held the capacity to ponder its existence whilst staring up at stars that, to it, held no meaning.
I sighed again. Sadness began to seep into my thoughts. The knowledge of life and the ability to question it should be celebrated, not looked upon with disdain.
A tear made its way from the corner of my eye, making a path down the side of my face. I wanted to appreciate life and all that it had to offer. There was so much beauty in the world. So many questions to ask and to have answered. There were so many emotions to partake in such as happiness, love, kindness, confidence, hope…
Hope. The thought stuck in my head. What a simple concept, yet one of the most complex things I have ever known. It is one of the few things that could hold a different definition for anyone who had it. It could be shaped and molded to fit each individual based on their life, wants, and needs. What was hope for one person may be entirely different to the next.
I had hope. I was not so naive as to hope for something as grand as world peace. I believe there will always be conflict in our species. It is in our nature to battle each other and make the world our own in the image we create for it. I did have hope though. I hoped that life would prosper. If not here, then somewhere.
Tears flowed freely now, blurring my view of the sky. I tried to blink them away, but they continued to come, drenching my face with their slick despair. A sob caught in my throat and I closed my eyes, willing myself to calm. My chest lifted as I inhaled deeply, the earthy smells around me filling my lungs. I held the breath for a moment before letting it out. I did this a few more times until the tears stopped and I opened my eyes once again.
The stars were still there, blinking at me in their curious way. I smiled at them. They were my hope.
A cold night breeze quietly blew past and I shivered. Was it this cold earlier? I couldn’t recall. I shrugged the chill away and continued to stare up.
Another sound, this time closer. I glanced to my right and a small, dark-colored rabbit appeared from behind some tall grass. It hopped closer to me, its nose quivering as it moved its head side to side in search of danger. I marveled at its courage to even approach me. It nibbled on a bit of grass as it considered me before making slow hops closer, sniffing my shoulder. It moved down my body, its fast moving nose investigating me until it reached the end of my arm and it froze. It stood on its hind legs, ears raised to full height and turning back and forth, agitated. After a moment it bolted back into the tall grass, frightened by whatever startled it.
I turned back to the sky once more. The rabbit had been a nice distraction from the pool of sadness I had just drug myself from. I took another deep breath. I felt tired. I could feel my thoughts beginning to slow. I continued to stare up to the stars, focused intently on the beauty of their twinkling and their slow march across the night sky as the world turned on its axis.
I found I couldn’t do much else as I lay there. I was so very tired. Thoughts fluttered in my mind, but they fluttered away just as quickly, like butterflies in a strong wind. I smiled again. It was peaceful. This meditation that I shared with the stars above.
I attempted to lift my arm to wipe the drying tears from my face, but found my muscles felt heavy. I was so tired now. I just wanted to sleep.
I watched the stars as they stared back. The edges of my vision began to dim. Slowly that darkness began to pull in, and my earlier wish flitted across my mind like a dream. All I had wished for was quiet peace. No more suffering, no more pain. I wanted to release myself, become one with that universe that held so much hope for me. I smiled again, knowing my wish had been granted by those celestial bodies above.
The darkness further encroached on my vision and as my chest rose and fell with my final breaths, my last waking view was of a streak of light that winked out of existence above me.