Dusk is falling when you get into the car and drive. Is it your eyes that make everything dim? The golden glow of sunset stretches from horizon to horizon. The sky is cloudless and clear above the flat land and the highway, with so much empty air between you and the moon.
You drive and you drive and you drive. The wheel hums beneath your hands. A crack in the window lets the fresh air wind its fingers through your hair, and you breath in. The stars are coming out above, silver pinpricks peeking through. But you've seen those from your house in the city. That's not what you're here for tonight.
The land is all shadow, and you can hear the dust scuffing under your feet when you get out of the car. The air is silent. You are far from everybody. The stars grow in number as the sky darkens, and finally, the last of the light is gone. You look up.
Look, look up at all of that. Who knew, that so far from the city lights, the night could be so dark? Who knew that the stars could be so bright?
If you've ever seen it, you know the feeling. It takes you someplace else. That bright band, spanning the sky; it's hard to imagine something so far away. The Milky Way is a name that could never truly describe it.
You look up and it steals the world from under your feet. Standing there in the dark and craning your neck. The cold tugs with a child's fingers at your clothes, and the darkness draws your wary attention, but you have eyes only for above. Everything seems to matter so much less, in this moment. Countries can collapse and oceans can rise and people can love and hate, but here it doesn't matter. Here it has never meant less.
It makes you feel meaningless, and it makes you feel small, but somehow, it feels good. To know that in the end, nothing you ever do really matters. The things that are happening out there? You are nothing to them. Entire worlds are gone in the blink of an eye. Galaxies spin in an eternal ballet. Suns burn out. Stars are born.
And you might never know the stars! You might never truly see them! Stars and stars, never seen with your own eyes. You'll never bear witness to the galaxy's tranquil turmoil, never see brilliance burst into life and then fade into nothing. You wish with all your might that you could. To see something like that…
Nothing can compare. No earthly thing could ever be that beautiful.