The Second Star to the Right
by Amy Martin (c)
“Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.”
I’ve always yearned for the stars. Out in the flat Texas plains, where I spent a lot of time growing up, the night sky wrapped around you like a womb. There it was infinite stars and infinite order, so much more than simple connect-the-dot creatures. Away from the city, where lights blur the stars and make us feel cast apart in the darkness, the nighttime country sky shimmered like a celestial weave.
On the plains, the stars were my childhood companions. I just knew, with all those Suns out there, we couldn’t be alone. Pinocchio and Peter Pan were out there, and with them all those things, impossible dreams. The stars were conduits to a child’s sense of God, a place where there was no confusion or pain, out there where all the magic was, where wishes could come true – if we only believed.
“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you.”
Then a little knowledge reared its dangerous head. This big kid, who thought he knew everything, told me that those friendly stars were just the light that had left them millions of years ago. They might be cold hard rock by now. What we saw when we looked at the night sky was another time, he said, a time that had nothing to do with life here on Earth. The stars were no longer intimate; they became infinitely remote. As years went on, the magic slipped away, as it does when you think you know it all.
Adrift in my youth, disillusioned by the apparent senselessness of adult society, my father intuitively gave me an astronomy book. Whatever the state of life on Earth, science was full of miracles and the universe was full of wonder. There were pages of photographs from huge telescopes, ethereal images of celestial lights. That second star in the sword of Orion, a constellation I’d watched for so many years, was more than a little diamond that twinkled in the sky. It was revealed to be nebulae, in shades of amethyst and brilliant white, spinning forth into the infinite the stuff of life. I wish I may, I wish I might, go to that Neverland some night.
“The second star to the right, shines with a light so rare. And when it’s Neverland you need, it’s like believing you’re there.”
The stars in the sky have gone from the naïveté of Disney, to the mocking face of time, to the image of life endlessly recreating itself. Knowledge can hold its own kind of wonder, as magical as the stars and as infinite as consciousness itself.