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Solar Sparks of Epiphanies
“We don’t have much time, do we?” he spoke softly, staring
enraptured at the inky constellations. The stars were never quite as clear
as they were that fateful night; Orion’s belt outlined itself perfectly in
specks of radiating plasma, forming that heroic shield —I could practically
feel the stardust from trillions of years stirring in my body.
My brother and I lay wrapped in blankets on the grass, roof tiles
scattered by our feet. The night was wholly black, the deep, lost kind,
without a streetlamp or stoplight or a single window lit up.
Thousands of stars shone, hundreds visible for the first time. My
mind swam in the beauty. Somewhere far and distinct, I felt sure God
watched us knowingly, all littered in disaster and shivers of hope.
I thought back to that morning. I could still see the inverted purple
sky looming outside my window; I could still hear the sirens ringing. I
remember exactly how it felt when that single remote thought occurred to
me—death is as likely as anything. At that moment the tornado ripped
overhead. The revolving sky plunged unto my street, yellowed and filled
with flying debris. I clung tight to my family.
Life held a precious quality when that eerie calmness crept over the
house—the tornado had passed. We stood outside, caught in a sticky
breath-held sort of silence. Trees were slapped against the asphalt, power
lines were down. Just miles down the road whole neighborhoods stood
with only frames left, jagged like broken teeth. We used the last of our gas
and spent the day sorting piles of pictures and valuables for the people still
gasping and shaking; they were only hours before buried under rubble. I’d
never felt so thankful.
That night my fingers trembled in the solar sparks of epiphanies. We
all have those moments where our pupils’ contract and neurons connect
and we realize something that ignites a steady, streaming circuit in our
hearts. That night was mine. I lay in one quiet, dark spot on the Earth, and
became acutely aware of how precious the little time we are given is.
And right now, months later, I stare at the night sky that will never
shine quite like it did amidst that sprawling disaster. Right now I’m eighteen
and I honestly don’t know what to do with my life. I know there are people
in need all around the world, and I know, like those days after the tornado,
that I‘ll be helping them one day. I know there are books I will write and I
know there are deep abysses and starry nights and classrooms that I’ll
forever dig for that treasured knowledge I seek.
Disaster is a devious tune that strikes a storm all over the Earth, but
that night it set my mind to seeing the beauty in the breakdown.
“I think we’re given the precise amount of time needed to make a
difference,” I remember answering. I still believe this much.