One of the truly (truly!) great things in life is to find yourself lying outside on a clear, dark night, somewhere away from the lights of the city – the fairway of the Banff Springs golf course, a campground near Uluru, a dock in Haliburton – after the moon has set for the evening or waned itself into newness.

The first thing you notice is how dark it is…you can’t remember the last time you were in a place this dark.  And somehow you find a piece of that Pink Floyd song drifting through your thoughts.

“And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

You turn your head to the sky and, like David Bowman investigating the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, can’t help but say, “it’s full of stars”.

Oh the stars…so many stars.  At first you notice the bright ones…there’s the Big Dipper…how do you find the North Star?  And there’s Orion, and there’s Cassiopeia, and…

Oh the stars…so many stars.  How many are there?  A thousand?  A million?  A gazillion?

And then you, lying there on that desert/dock/fairway, notice it…that smudge of light running through the sky that you thought would go away when your eyes adjusted to the dark is still there…and the realization hits you…you’re looking at the Milky Way, our galactic home, with its gazillion upon gazillion of stars.  And somehow you find a piece of another 70s song floating around in your head.

“I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment’s gone.”

And then you, after briefly wondering why the soundtrack of your life is from four decades ago, start to think about all the other worlds out there among the vastness of a gazillion stars, you start to feel small.  And then you, as you start thinking about string theory and the cyclic model of the universe and how the big bang that gave birth to our small Milky Way 14 billion years ago might just be playing on an endless loop, you start to spin in the mind-boggling enormity of it all…spinning, twirling, whirling as the soundtrack of the opening track from GY!BE’s latest album dances through your mind (just to show the kids that it’s not all about the 70s…hey, it coulda been Hendrix or the Doors).

And you spin, past the Milky Way, past the North Star and the Big Dipper, past theories of the universe you don’t really understand, through the dark night until you land, soft as a cosmic ray floating on the solar wind (whatever that means) back on your fairway/dock/desert, surrounded by the stars.

And you realize that the most important thing, the only thing that really (truly!) matters, is what we have right here, right now.  Your health.  Your family and friends.  Your own small dot in the sky…your planet.

So you resolve to recycle, turn off the lights, bring a mug for coffee, leave the car at home more often.  To save a little of what we have for future generations.  To make a difference.  To change…

Happy New Year, UHN, Happy New Year.

Dust in the wind,  all we are is dust in the wind