One of my favourite parts of camping is being separated from the big outside by just a thin layer of plastic. I especially love how close I feel to the night sky. I love the anticipation as I unzip my tent fly door at 10pm, crawl out of my tent with my tripod and camera (and likely wearing 5 layers)…and look up. There have been instances where the sky is so immense that I feel as though it has completely engulfed me; I have melted away into the universe and become so a part of it that I could reach out and pluck a star out for keeps.
And one of my favourite types of photography is astrophotography. I love the slowness + stillness of it. Time trickles away from me as I stand there in the dark, exposure after exposure, with all my senses fire like never before. The only reason I ever manage to tear myself away is either because the cold has settled deep into my bones or because I intend on rising early for sunrise.
It all makes sense right? It doesn’t take a detective to discover how much of a romantic and dreamer I am. The night sky in its obscurity + mystery is such a catalyst into boundless wondering for me. Usually, I think about people and connection. I don’t really know why; maybe it’s the remnants of watching “Lion King” about a billion times ("Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars... So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.")
And the night sky in its enormity in scale + beauty…well, I feel as though I could spend a lifetime capturing it and never feel like I’ve done it justice.
As we near the end of 2018, I am even more contemplative and reflective than usual and I feel so fortunate to have spent so much time under a starry night sky this year.
Here are my night sky photos from this year and some musings on people and connection.
This was one of my most loved photographs from 2018 and one of my most engaged captions. I received so many direct messages and comments about what I wrote. Even now when I reread it, I am so proud of it. I remember mulling over the concept for weeks, trying to weave it altogether into something coherent and beautiful. As I said above, I am a hopeless romantic but I am also fairly rational. I love to tie the poetry that I see in this world to something more ‘proven’ and concrete like science. I was wondering about soulmates and then I found some kind of meaning in reading about cosmic matter…
“For some, the night sky in its vastness + obscurity makes them uncomfortable.
But I’ve always loved it.
As a child, I’d wake up in the middle of the night, creep over to my window and stare at the stars, imagining the billions of other lives; what they were thinking + feeling, the joys + heartaches… Feeling connected to nameless, faceless strangers I’d never meet.
I never told anyone the above as it is a bit strange, but years later I read that everything; you, me, the earth, the universe, is made of stardust.
Cosmic matter, some as old as time and others, closer to what we can relate to.
So maybe, some things + people physically share the same make up, the same dust from the same star.
Infinitesimal and elemental but it is to each other that they gravitate.
Maybe that’s what makes a soulmate.
It’s why there is that inexplicable pull – why there are places that instantly and eternally feel like home, why when I’m in the mountains I feel like I just evanesce into part of the landscape, why there are people who get + love those deep unseen parts, who share the same odd thought patterns and make you feel like the dark isn’t so bad after all.
Or maybe not…
But it’s kinda nice to wonder about it and to attach what I think is a beautiful concept about what and who I love, to the bewitching, beautiful night sky…”
“When I used to look up at the night sky, I also thought about those who came before & would come after me, marvelling at the same stars.
I wonder if now, I’ll also think of those that never had & never will have the chance.
A sad, not very whimsical thought.
But I think that it’s them, all along, to whom I felt a sense of duty, to be my best self & live my most beautiful life.
Because their fire never started, I will keep mine burning ever-brighter.
And that to me, is the courage to be resilient in face of downturns & broken hearts and at the moment, that's the kind that matters the most. It’s the one that’ll give me directions out of this trough.
Only in the darkness, can you see the stars”
HEART ON MY SLEEVE
This isn’t something that the night sky compelled me to write but it belongs here with everything else I’ve pondered about people and connection. One of my drivers in life is regret; I often make decisions based on what I would regret having not done if I was to die tomorrow. One of the thoughts that gives me the most pain is imagining leaving this Earth and having someone who I loved so much having no clue what they meant to me. It actually breaks my heart. If you’re someone I hold dear, it’s not a rare occurrence to receive a handwritten card, a gushy text message or a hug that speaks a million words from me.
“I want you to realise how impactful it is to let people know what they mean to you - the magic you find in them, how they have changed you, how their work makes you feel, what memories you share with them that you hold onto so tightly, what you find beautiful about them.
I have often felt super bashful and vulnerable to wear my heart on my sleeve like that…but it has always been worth it.
Yes, there has been the embarrassment of coming on too strong and the fear of it not being reciprocated.
Or sometimes, there is so much love there that it fills up my whole heart and then sucks all my breath away trying to express it into words.
But even still, I strongly believe in not leaving things unsaid.
And you know, it doesn’t even have to be that intense.
Over the last week, some nice things people have said to me have been, “I love seeing you happy” and “You are so easy to work with!”. They might’ve been off-hand remarks for them but they made my day.
Words are powerful - so please be careful with them…but also be generous with them.”
Since leaving high school, I have added so many threads to the tapestry of my life through different jobs and careers, travels and experiences and with them, come infinite relationships that have been both fleeting and long-lasting, simple and multilayered. I treasure every single encounter. I invest a lot of time, effort + heart into my connections. I know that some people preach the whole ‘better to have a couple true friends than countless acquaintances’. Except that I value both and I rarely view someone as just an ‘acquaintance’. Once someone is in my life, I am able to see so much beauty in them and I will always want to hear their story. But this year, more than ever, I have fallen in love with a handful of my relationships that have shown unprecedented breadth + depth and unconditional support.
“A billion trillion stars out there but you and me, managed to be made of the same dust from the same supernova.
The same undercurrent of the unknown + depth but also that same incandescence.
Probably only a handful of connections like that out there for each of us in our lifetimes.”
SOMETHING GREATER THAN US…
I had a Catholic upbringing but I have always felt great dissonance with it. I understand the role of religion but I’ve never had a need or want for it. I don’t push anyone towards or away from religion and I expect the same respect and courtesy. If anything, I believe in love and goodness and potential of humanity. But there are two instances when I do wonder if there does exist some greater power out there and it’s when something seems too much of a coincidence (like sharing an Uber with someone who used to live right next door to the person you’re on your way to see!!!) and when I’m looking upwards into the cosmos.
“It’s all written in the stars…
Sometimes, it definitely feels that way - like things happen for a reason. Like the universe is conspiring, pushing, hinting, hoping. But even still, in these instances, I see significance not in a greater power like fate or the gods or destiny, but simply in the ‘reason’ I have found.
Because I think the ‘reasons’ we find are what our heart + soul truly, strongly want. It feels like it’s ‘meant to be’, not because it is but because we want it to be. And that should be enough...even more enough than if it is indeed ‘fate’. Because this, unlike fate, is something we can choose…
Just some ramblings out of the mind of a romantic but an atheist trying to make sense of dots that seem to connect...”
As I hit publish on this, there are 31 days left of the year. I’ll be sharing with you more photographs + writings from 2018. I was going to collate them all into one big blog post but I’ve decided to segment them into themes so stay tuned for the next one xxx