I don’t live here, but it’s here that I refer to as home. Thirty years my family has been here, just a blink in world history, but thirty years is longer than my entire life thus far. So to me, it is everything.
It’s a place that has afforded me deep solitude while teaching me the meaning of hard work, simultaneously allowing for relaxation and the chance to challenge myself. It has so deeply formed and shaped who I’ve become, indelibly influencing my 22 years in innumerable ways.
It’s where I learned to drive, where I learned to swim, and where I learned to shoot, change the oil, and build a fire.
It’s more than that, though. It’s sunrise coffee on the porch swing, but also sleeping until the sun streams in too brightly to sleep anymore. It’s dancing around the kitchen mixing cookie dough, knowing the amount that will be baked is less than will be eaten raw. It’s exploring in the woods and cutting new trails through the trees. It’s the glassy green stillness of the lily-padded cove and a Gatsby-esque green light glowing across the water.
And it’s the stars. I remember laying on my back on the dock with my head almost touching the water, each bright pinpoint of light piercing the blackness above and reflecting, ever-shimmering, onto the lake’s dark surface like a mirror. From there, broken only by a line of silhouetted trees, the entire world became a globe of stars.
That’s where I did most of my best thinking. What secrets lay beneath the sand that lines the bottom of those hundred-foot depths? What did this land look like before it was touched by the hands of settlers? Before the Natives? Before the glaciers carved it into the shape of a mitten? Before that? These teenage philosophies continue to creep into my mind from time to time, but the one that always circles back around and sticks with me is that of the stars.
Looking at those stars marked the first time I was struck by how small we are. Each of those stars represents an entire solar system, yet we place enormous significance on things that are really rather undeserving of that sort of attention. Like how we stress about things that will mean nothing in 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years, let alone the light years spanned to deliver a billion-year-old star to us, to one single moment. The present.
The stars gave me a sense of unity, not just with my loved ones and the land, but with all of humanity. Everyone who has ever been in the northern hemisphere has seen those stars. People today, our ancestors, all the great minds of history, all the way back to the cave people, have all seen those same stars. When it comes down to it, everyone has the same basic needs and deals with the same basic issues. We are all human, and I believe it is human nature to look up and wonder.
Which is why I kept looking up, and all of my thoughts on how small we are dissipated when I really understood how important we are. All of those individual suns, yet ours is the only world we know. The only world perfectly situated to support us and the only world ever likely to be called home. It’s no accident. God put us all here for a reason, to fulfill some purpose and do something with our fleeting time here.
I don’t know what that means to you, because it’s different for everybody. It’s yours to discover. That’s the beauty of life and the beauty of humanity. But I do know what it means to me, and I discovered it on our edge of the lake.