Carl Sagan said that “we are made of star stuff”. It’s an uplifting sentiment, and I suppose it’s scientifically true, but most days I’m more convinced that I’m comprised of space debris rather star dust. And yet, every time I take a look at my kids, I become more and more convinced of Sagan’s words.
I am more cosmic chaos than celestial brilliance but, in one of my favorite Nietszche quotes, he says that “one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star”. Inside me, there is a swirling torrent of anarchy and my kids, they are my dancing stars.
They are constellations twirling across the night sky, the light from a distant star that died long ago, the luminous remnants of the fading supernova that once was me. Burning their way through the past tense of my space and time, and flickering into the present, they are unencumbered by the fact that the source from which they emerged is no longer itself a source of light.
If we are made of star stuff, I think a heart can die out like a star. There are times when Our hearts exhaust the fuel at our core, they collapse, they explode, they grow colder, and if it’s massive enough they become black holes. I feel like a cold, dead star, lost in the deep blackness of the universe.
But, like stars, I take comfort in the fact that the light that once radiated from who we are keeps traveling light years after our hearts burn out, if we’re lucky we get to see it and recognize it.
That gives me hope. I know that there is some light left in this world because my kids are in it. I know that there was once some light in me because I still see it in them. That light lives on even though I have collapsed into something contracted. It makes me think that if a heart can die out like a star, then maybe our hearts can be reborn like one as well.
A few years ago astronomers witnessed something rare and exciting while observing a star 2700 light years away named SAO 244567. Not a particularly sexy name, but I suppose mine isn’t either. SAO 244567 experienced a helium-flash event. The remaining helium outside the core of the star reignited, causing what astronomers have called a “stellar rebirth”. The sheer release of energy caused by the flash forced the contracted star into a giant expansion. SAO 244567 came back to life. And according to astronomers, over the course of the next several hundred years SAO 244567 will reclaim all of the magnificence of it’s younger self, returning to the size and scope of what it once had been in 10,300 BCE.
Maybe we’re not dead yet. Maybe we’re just dormant. Maybe there is still some light left in us. Maybe we’re just one flash event away from returning to the magnitude and vitality of who and what we once we’re. Maybe what they say is true. Maybe it’s never too late to start over. Maybe we’re all just stars waiting to be reborn.
May your heart be reignited and reborn with a flash of energy at your core.
May you ever expand from the contraction of your collapse, and reclaim your original radiance.
May you come back to life, like the star stuff that you are.
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