Every Sunday evening I’m charged with the task of placing our rubbish bins on the road side to be emptied out the next day. Although it is a task which is largely regarded as unsavory to most people (especially in the cold wet winter), I do personally enjoy it. Not the actual task itself, of course. That is undeniably menial. But what it does give me is the opportunity to have a peaceful gaze up at the skies.
To look up at the skies on clear summer evenings where all the stars are bright and twinkling is a great pleasure for me – sometimes I’d even just stand there outside my front door looking up at the sky for a while (I realize if someone caught me in those moments I’d look like a right nutcase). While gazing I often get caught up with various thoughts about stars, galaxies, planets, and the fact that I’m looking directly at space and beyond. At the same time I’d also think about how much of a speck we are in the vastness of space, and how our time on earth really is fleeting. On the scale of the universe it’s just a flash.
This allows me to reassess my life and puts me in a good position to take stock of my blessings, and to appreciate everything that I have. Ultimately I become more grateful that I’m alive and able to stand there and ponder all those things whilst looking at the natural beauty that is outer space. I generally spend around 10-15 minutes gazing at space for this reason; the mere fact that I’m there and able to look up at the night sky is a blessing in itself. The fact that I have functional eyesight, the fact that there are no clouds, that all the stars are undeniably breathtaking, the cool weather etc. collectively allow me to stand there and ponder my existence, and thus make me all that more appreciative of the life that I’m privileged to live.
An old maxim of the ancient Greek stoics (see Seneca’s letters) is that it should be regular practice of every individual to fantasize each evening of the inevitable loss of all materials that they hold dear. Although it sounds drastic, it nevertheless has a good purpose. For after the fantasy has run it’s course the individual is brought back to reality where all those materials have not actually been lost and thus allows them to be that much more appreciative of their presence, which in turn allows the individual to be that much more content with their life and circumstances, which ultimately contributes towards happiness.
Those minutes spent gazing up at the stars on Sunday evenings allow me to do this in a more peaceful and awe-inspiring way; which is why I love doing it because I believe it makes me a whole lot happier with my life – and that is all we really want while we are on this speck of dust in the vast universe.