AR 1520 is one of the largest sunspot clusters on the Sun and it released a massive X1.4 class flare directed straight at Earth. What this means is, a blob of magnetically charged solar material was expected to impact Earth at 3:20 this morning. The potential result, besides messing with some power systems, was spectacular auroras that were supposed to be visible from as far away from the North Pole as the central, continental United States. This is something worth staying up for.
Where I live, auroras are not frequent, but neither are they very rare. During the late autumn/early winter months, the north-eastern night sky is sometimes filled with dazzling displays of dancing green and red lights. I have seen them as early as August and as late as March. Usually, it’s hit and miss - I just happen to look out a window or up at the night sky and there they are - but when an announcement of the possibility of being treated to a show in mid-July appeared on my Google+ stream, it was an invitation I could not refuse. Of course, I posted it on Facebook with an open invitation to my friends to join me.
The plan was: a) take a nap from about 10 to 2:30; b) get up and open a bottle of wine; c) wait for anyone who might show up; d) sit in the back yard and wait for the show to begin.
What happened was: a) M (a dear friend) showed up at 10 o’clock with a bottle of wine; b) we drank her bottle; c) I kicked her butt at Boggle; d) we opened my bottle of wine; e) we kicked each other’s butts at Crib; f) we walked down to meet my daughter, who wanted to join us; g) we went into the back yard at 3:30; h) we discovered that the sun was already rising and; i) there was no aurora to be seen.
|Not actually what we saw,|
just a reasonable facsimile.
Slightly tipsy, over-tired and disappointed, we called it a night. My daughter (not tipsy at all) went home and M crashed on the sofa as it was not a good idea for her to be driving. I don’t know how long she stayed there - she was gone when I got up at 9.
Two years ago, I would never have stayed up all night just to maybe see an aurora. I would have been bummed that I would miss it, but it never would have occurred to me to invite anyone over and stay up to watch it happen. My life then was somewhat prosaic, a parody of what life should be. With an uninspired and uninspiring partner, my own inspiration had waned to the point of living a colourless existence with little social inclination and less adventure. What passed for life was a mundane and humdrum transition from day to day, age creeping up the scale and fun hibernating in a cave like an old bear - quite possibly on another planet, in another dimension.
I have since learned that life really is meant to be lived. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or dangerous to be uplifting. Simple things – like waiting up all night for an aurora – make a difference. M and I laughed all night. We just got to be silly, for no real good reason, and it felt good. (Thank you, M, for making my life a little bit brighter last night!)
The tarnish is coming off my heart, off my mind and off my life. Like the clay shell that hid the golden Buddha, that old patina of sadness and longing that enveloped me for so long is falling off. Beneath it is a whole new person filled with the light of inspiration and joy. And this little light of mine… Well, I’m gonna let it shine!
What drives us to settle for things that are less than we are worthy of is a mystery to me. And it’s one that I no longer wish to solve. There is far too much wonder and beauty and pleasure in this world to enjoy and discover. To waste time now on that which hurt so much is pointless. Sure there remains a small part of me that would still love to take certain people by the hand and walk with them down this path of wonder and beauty and pleasure. Yet, having reached out so many times and having had my hand slapped for the effort, I’d now rather reach for the stars. And the auroras – even if they don’t show up!