Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack

I hope that whereever you were, you were able to witness last night's conjunction of the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus. It was lovely and special, really, in an old-fashioned, Romantic way -- a way that makes one think about the types of things that may have passed for entertainment and surprise in earlier times.

I'm often wistful when witnessing extremely rare occurrences like this one. I remember getting sad and anxious during the US Bicentennial year 1976. We lived very close to one of the "Crossroads of the American Revolution," and there were re-enactments galore of famous battles and historical events for well over a year. My eight-year-old mind didn't look upon these events with even a shred of cynicism, and I'm glad now that my parents made an effort to attend some of them with me.

However, even though I don't think I expressed it outwardly, I remember getting anxious and even sad thinking about the fact that if we skipped or missed any part of the events, that we'd never get a chance to see them again -- ever -- because there wouldn't be another similar celebration until the Tricentennial, one hundred years hence. It may have been one of the first times I pondered some nascent recognition of mortality, because I could relate it to concrete events. I knew what it meant; I knew somehow that there was probably very little chance that I'd live to be 108 years old. At the same moment I must have thought about what that span of a century meant compared to human lives, the lives of me and my family members. There were certain special things -- or so I thought -- that really could only be experienced once in a lifetime.

(And yes, sometime after age eight, I learned about sesquicentennials and also about the crude and somewhat unsophisticated air surrounding historical reenactments.)

So, while not to stir any anxiety in you, I do hope you were able to witness last night's astral event.

Because it's said that the next time it will occur will be after my eighty-fourth birthday.

photo from Flickr.com


rptrcub said...

Pardon my astronomical ignorance, but so that's what that arrangement of celestial objects and the moon was last night! I thought those were planets but I couldn't put my finger on it.

I feel stupid and shallow now.

Huntington (who really did get his Astronomy merit badge in Scouts) said...

What rptrcub said. I was walking up Market with Billy when I noticed that unusual arrangement in the sky and thought "Huh, that's strange."

Papagayo said...

i'm claiming ignorance of this event, although i can remember seeing haley's comet as a child and my dad telling me it was the only time i'd see it in my life. it certainly made it more special, but my problematic existential personality didn't surface for years

Salty Miss Jill said...

Do you remember that Ray Bradbury story about the boy living on the planet where the sun only came out once every 50 years, and he missed out because he got locked in the closet? (I ought to look up the title...) Chilling.
I'm glad you got to see this. :)
Living in another part of the world,

Joe said...

I'd forgotten about that very sad story. So heartbreaking.

BigAssBelle said...

I did see that, from the beach in Mexico. It was amazing. There's something about the sky that gives me a sense of my own mortality, but in a good way.