One thing I forgot to put in my astoundingly long blog entry below.
When I went camping in Zion, and late at night we snuck off to the beach. It was dark. We were miles away from any real major light, but you still couldn’t see anything much in the sky. Then I noticed what looked like the sun rising… in the south. It was probably 2 or 3 in the morning, way too early for the sun to rise, and in the completely wrong spot. Then it hit me, it was the lights of Chicago. A now-permanent sunrise at night, always brightly glowing. Even 50 miles out you still see the affect in the sky.
In math class when they introduced the concept of infinity, they tell you to look up at the sky. Look at all those stars, and the endless blackness beyond.
That, they tell you, is infinity.
Yeah, it works. You look up and see an endless sky, the pitch black of an endless universe. You see a handful of stars, far away, so far they seem infinitely far away.
When you get out at night in the middle of Yellowstone, you’re the only light for miles.
Not just miles.
You’re surrounded on 30 or so miles every way by trees, mountains, and bison.
You’re so surrounded, so far away from any other light, you can shut off your headlights and see absolutely nothing.
Then look up into the sky.
Then you will see infinity. You can’t see it from a city, you can’t see it in a field, you can’t even see it a few miles out.
When you look up you don’t focus on the black, the true infinity. You just see so many stars, 100 or a 1000 or a million times more than you can see at home. No, they’re not endless, but they’re not countable. They fade away, you see some you didn’t see before, you see some that aren’t even there anymore. You can fixate on one small, dim star and there’s so many you can be sure you’re the only person looking at it.
I never understood why people were amazed by the stars, why ancient people looked up and were so amazed they created folklore about them. I could only think this way because I’d never even seen the sky before — it’s been stolen away by the cities — when I saw what those people saw before the lightbulb, it was so obvious why.