Last night I swam among the stars. The air and water temperatures were both 78 degrees, so it felt like I was stepping from one warm atmosphere into another more dense. There was no moon and the Milky Way was strewn across the sky like scattered bones of light. When I lay on my back to watch them, it felt like I was floating among the stars.
And then I realized–I was! We all are.
We sail across the universe on the back of a tiny planet at the edge of a galaxy that swirls around us. Too often we forget that–how embedded we really are in the universe.
I became acutely aware of this one night when we were crossing the Sea of Cortez from Baja to mainland Mexico. There was no wind, no moon. The sea was perfectly still like the surface of a dark mirror, marred only by our trailing wake.
Above us the bare mast stirred a billion stars, which were reflected in the sea’s surface below. I felt like we were on a starship sailing through the cosmos.
Later that night I wrote this:
Night Crossing, Sea of Cortez
The sea appears so simple
With a dark, indulgent face
The stars there twice reflected
Like a world spun out of space
Our sloop shoots through the cosmos
Through a mute and moonless night
Our wake a fiery comet
Streaming effervescent light
With all the universe inert
We slip from star to star
Then reach across the Milky Way
Toward galaxies afar
Eons swirl, light-years unfurl
And none can still our flight
Leaping toward the infinite
To apprehend the light.
I’m not alone in seeing the overlap between the ocean and the night sky. Various artists are fond of depicting whales and dolphins and other sea creatures swimming among the stars. The ocean and the universe stand at the edge of the wild, the last two true frontiers we have to explore, except for the human consciousness, of course. The ocean and the universe have become symbols for consciousness as well as adventure.
We seem to grasp that there is something that connects all three—some deep, dreamy, ever-flowing, ungraspable, powerful yet nurturing element in which we all are steeped. That calls us to move beyond ourselves, beyond the safe and familiar, the already known. That inspires us to reach for something that lies just beyond our grasp.
I’m still reaching. Are you? What calls you to move beyond yourself into the unknown?