I remember one night when I was very young, and I clutched my father's hand tightly as we walked out into the dark night. I recall that it was long after my bedtime as the grandfather clock chimed nine o'clock. I was wearing my favorite Pink Panther slippers and matching pajamas, and my free hand desperately clung to my teddy bear. We sat down in the back lawn together and he effortlessly picked me up and seated me gently on his lap. I noticed everything on the earth around me: the ant hill, the dandelions, and even the faint outlines of the tree trunks. He leaned his head forward when he whispered softly in my ear to look up. That was the first time I ever really noticed the stars. I remember being overwhelmed. I could not possibly count all the glittering sparkles that illuminated the heavens and glistened softly next to the moon. At that moment I tried to reach out and grasp one, but my arms were not long enough so I asked my father. I begged him for just one for my birthday. He laughed, I could not get him to promise.
"Aim for the moon, Caitie, because even if you miss it you'll end up amongst the stars." I did not understand exactly what he meant. Did he think that I was going to throw something at the moon? Although, since that night I have come to cherish this sentiment. Amongst the aggravation and mishaps of day-to-day life, we never stop to appreciate the little things. We strive to attain our goals, but by working so hard to achieve them, we become blind to the beauty in the world around us. It is important to work hard and have a dream to strive for, although we often fail to see that it is not always a disaster to fall short of our goals. The moon may be the first thing we notice when we gaze into the nighttime sky, but the stars shine just as brightly and project as much light.
Since that night, I have outgrown my Pink Panther slippers and my teddy bear has faded. My father still teases me on my birthday with cards that have stars, amused by my naive notion that he could really reach into the firmament and grasp a star for me. Devoutly I draw back my curtains and gaze up upon the heavens. They appear more beautiful each night, and I often wonder if I am the only one gazing upon one particular star at that very moment. Each night as I stare, I realize that each one of us is like the stars, and each plays an integral role in creating the solar system. Each one of us shines brightly because of our unique talents, but it is when we come together that we light up the black night.
Just for a moment tonight, look up with an open heart and gaze with a child's awed stare. Perhaps you'll wonder if they have always been there, unwavering, and shining proudly. Reach out and try to grasp one, and if you do not, never give up trying. Remember that "We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun." - John Lennon ^
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.