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Last night I swam among the stars. The air and water temperatures were both 78 degrees, so it felt like I was moving from one warm atmosphere into another more dense when I stepped in my pool. 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.

Stars reflected in the water

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?

Night Howls

Walking Among Flowers

Hot Hills in Summer Heat

Touching the Wild

“A Scattering of Rocks” – Zen in the Garden of Eden