Shooting Star

I remember laying on a smooth rock by the river. I must’ve been about ten or eleven. It was pitch black at the camping grounds when the decision was made to go to the river and look at the stars. We had been comfortably warm by the fire making small talk. Really, we were there because there’s something about a fire that draws people together. Conversations become more relaxed and personal while the fire eats up every word; your secrets were safe here. The fire was beautiful more than anything to me as a child. I was scared of it but mesmerized by the flickers of each flame that leaped off the log towards the sky. I’d watch one jump, stretch brighter and brighter, until it dissipated into smoke. The movement of chairs brought me back to attention and I mindlessly followed the adults towards the water. I was miserably cold and terrified of the dark. It was worse without my flashlight. The beach, if you could call it that, was covered in stones, big and small. I would catch my foot on small ones occasionally and almost fall only to land on a bigger rock I couldn’t see. We went on that beach virtually blind and were forced to go on hands and knees to avoid accidents. Their voices were my beacon and I tried my best to stay near. When the beacon stopped moving, people began announcing they had settled on a rock they found and were good. The rock I would partner up with on this beach happened to be the one I sat down on first. I felt with my cold hands a surface that was even colder, mapping out the space, firmness, and eventually decided it would catch me when I did a trust fall onto its surface. The cold was overwhelming. My coat did its best to keep me warm but I kept shivering nonetheless. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something bright move. When I turned my head up towards it, I was instantly captivated by all of the other stars in the sky, beckoning with a twinkle. I was awestruck. I had never seen so many stars gathered in one area before. The city lights were always too bright and selfish, refusing to let the smaller stars through. The ones that did break through were few and far between. Silence poured over each of us as our eyes did their best to take in such beauty. Our lips would utter a “Wow” or something unintelligible without us even noticing. Then I saw it again. The streak kept interrupting my feeling of being awestruck and I could never quite capture it with my gaze. It would happen in one corner, then back to where I originally looked, then somewhere else, until finally I chose to stare at one spot and wait for the streak to fall into my trap instead. When it did, I was taken back. A falling star? The parents began commenting on the shooting stars and I learned a bit about them. The only thing that I remember  learning is that you could make a wish on them, and I did for many years to come.

I don’t know when I stopped wishing. I think one day I realized that I had everything I wanted and didn’t feel the desire to wish anymore. On another day, I realized I simply wanted to enjoy the beauty without any strings attached. Or maybe I stopped believing they could come true. One can only take so much disappointment before they stop believing. People are like shooting stars sometimes.

Usually, my sky is filled with beautiful twinkling lights. Occasionally, a city light would pop up and drown out some stars, then it’d disappear and I’d see what stars were left. Sometimes I would blink and decide I didn’t want those stars anymore.Other times, stars would appear and surprise me with their glow. Those were the ones I treasured the most. As time passes, the bright stars can begin to fade but others shine brilliantly without fail. When I look around my sky, some days I see more stars, other days I see less. It’s all beautiful to me. Then, a shooting star. They’re quick, bright, and take me by surprise. I would be startled for a moment then relax as they burn up trying to come through the atmosphere. The girl on the rock by the river believed that shooting stars were magic. They’re crystal balls made of mystic powers that God would drop so we can put a wish on it for Him to see. It was all a wonderful fantasy. I love magic.

Fast forward to the beginning of the most recent shooting star. When it appeared, it was brilliant like the others, bright like the others, but more fierce than the ones I had seen before. I was mesmerized by the light; it reminded me of the fire I had once been amazed by. I couldn’t help but make a wish on it. I wished big and I wished hard, thinking this star must surely make it to God’s hands, He’d see me this time. As the star travels, it feels like it’s taking me across space, giving me a view of the universe I have never seen before. It was dark, endless, and beautiful. No words can fully capture its essence and I don’t think any word before, now, and in the future ever can. It’s easy to forget how shooting stars work when you’re swept away by one, but reality stops for no one no matter how much we wish it did.

Now that I’m grown up, I know more about shooting stars from a scientific view, free of magic. In this endless universe are chucks of rock floating about. As our world rotates around our beacon of light and life, we run into these chunks now and again. When they collide with such speed, the rock heats up, glows, and burns down. We collide with countless rocks, most of them small and hidden by day light. It’s the ones at night that we look out for. This is what we see in our night skies. Just before dawn our Earth faces the way she’s traveling and as a result, her face collides with more rocks and we can see twice the amount of falling stars we normally see. Earth happened to be facing the direction she’s moving the day I looked up and saw this shooting star crash into my atmosphere. I thought it would burn up the way the others did so quickly but it surprised me by sweeping me up. Reality made it clear that no matter how much I wished, all shooting stars burn up in the end, and that’s exactly what happened.

The star that I had been so mesmerized by started getting too hot. My body reacted the way anybody would, I leaped back the way I would pull my hand off a hot stove. After the burn disappeared, I found myself getting close to the star again anyway; it’s like any warning of heat had disappeared with the burn. I would forget again and again each time I was burned. Before I knew it, I was covered in burn marks that I couldn’t see in the mirror. Maybe I was blind to it. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. Maybe I just didn’t want to see the truth. I wanted so desperately for this star to keep shining, maybe for the rest of my life, that I was okay with being blind. I felt like a miracle had walked into a room with me, flipped the light on, and revealed treasures beyond my wildest dreams. The space I was originally comfortable in was now filled with all the things I thought I had wanted, I thought it would make me happy and for a while it did. But the star kept burning up. That’s the truth about shooting stars, they don’t last forever and they all burn until they disappear forever. I must’ve fallen off my star right before it burned up completely because I remember falling. I remember feeling my stomach leap into my throat as gravity pulled me into its arms. I remember facing the ground with my arms and legs spread out like an X that marks the spot but this X marked nothing but pain. There was no net I could see or any sort of bottom. It felt and sometimes still feels like an endless pit that will continue to push my stomach forever, that will continue to suffocate me as the air rushes too quickly into my lungs, and that will continue to freeze me with the fierce cold that nips at you as you fall. Through this pain, I’ve made no desire to go back to that star or any other star. I realized that you can only see stars for half the day and only in the dark. That didn’t seem reliable anymore. What about the day time? What if I need a wish then? Where do I look?

People can be like shooting stars. I found the one that burned me to the core too early in life. I want to say I wouldn’t change a thing but right now in this moment I would. I would go back and change everything. The surprise comes at what I would change. One would’ve thought I’d change the relationship I had and figured out some way to fix it, but I’m wishing I could go back and never look in the direction of the star and let it burn in the atmosphere before I had even noticed it. Other days, I wish that the pain would stop and I would just forget. All shooting stars burn, and they can’t carry our wishes forever no matter how bright they look. I watched my wish burn up in my atmosphere as the descent began. Now, as I’m falling, I realize that the speed at which I’m falling has lessened. The wind isn’t so fierce, the cold isn’t so harsh, and the pain is slowly being left behind. Even as I type these words expecting crippling pain, I feel less of it. It’s so funny watching the way writing takes you, I never end up where I think I will. The pain is escaping my finger tips and into these paragraphs, into the sentences, into the words. The truth is I was afraid to write about shooting stars. Every time I write, I’m standing in the middle of the post manipulating the words into designs that are a part of me so that you can experience it with me. I slide my finger one way and a new pattern appears and I want you to feel it with me, whatever emotion it may be. Each post is part of my story and some chapters are longer than others. This chapter has been longer than others in peculiar ways. I’ve shut the door on the most toxic parts of the chapter to contain them but the emotional scars are still glowing from left over star dust. The pain is turning out to be one of the longest foot notes I’ve seen in a book. Luckily, as I bring you with me, it becomes easier.

Shooting stars burn up. Sometimes wishes don’t come true. Sometimes we get burned. Other times we hurt longer than we want to. Our ideas aren’t always reality even if we put everything into making that true. When it comes crashing down, we have to pick up the pieces of ourselves we put into it. I was so tempted to just leave it and move on, but these scars are telling me not yet, don’t leave, not now. The door to the end of the chapter wasn’t unlocked yet and the knob continued to rattle as I tried to pry it open, desperate to leave the pain. Finally, there was nothing left to do but turn around and face the wreckage. My eyes stayed shut as my back touched the door and slid down until I was sitting with my face buried in my hands. I didn’t want to look, I wasn’t ready, I can’t feel this pain. All the thoughts ran through at a million miles an hour and I couldn’t stop them. The memories tortured me late at night as the back of my eye lids became movie screens. The images of smiles, laughter, and fun repeatedly get slapped into my face. I really thought I was done. As time went and continues to go on, the movie reel slows as the film runs out and the images begin to burn. I can peek now and again without wanting to crumple. I think that’s why I avoided finishing this post for days. It sat half written, calling out to me each time I opened my laptop, and each time I was afraid to continue. The pain I knew would be coming as my fingers hit the keys was overwhelming. Now, as I finally type, I realize the pain I had anticipated had been in my head. The reality isn’t as big as the delusion I had created. I can handle the hurt. I can handle the pain. I can handle the images being slapped in my face without cringing or shying away. I let it hit and fall to the floor. It doesn’t mean anything anymore, it doesn’t have power over me anymore. It turns out the things that had been calling me to finish were the pieces of me I needed to pick up.

The sad truth is that shooting stars are brief and bright before they burn up and disappear. The younger version of me thought she could make a wish on them and they’d come true. Now that I’m older, I see that the younger version of me was wrong, but that’s okay. See, I don’t need a star to make my wishes come true. I have the power inside myself to make my reality a beautiful one. I have the help of a God who loves me more than anything. With help, I can begin to pick up the pieces of myself that are valuable even if I didn’t believe that for a long time. I have the dreams big enough to rock the world. I have a desire to thrive so big that I begin to glow. That’s where I stop though, the glow. I don’t want to burn, I just want to glow. There’s nothing wrong with wishing though, I still do it sometimes. The thing that’s changed with time is me and what I’m wishing for. Instead of things just for myself, I’ve begun to wish for the people I see around me and beginning to grant those wishes with my own power. That room that I had been in with the miracles and treasures disappeared when I walked away from him, yes, but as my bravery and courage grew, I began to feel around the walls and discovered switch after switch after switch that make the room bigger and brighter each time I flip one. I’m capable of glowing all on my own regardless of who is and isn’t next to me.

The days when I hurt too much to glow are starting to be over run by the days where I am okay. I wish I could be okay all the time but that’s not my reality right now. I’m waiting for the foot notes to disappear, the scar to be cleaned of star dust, and the door to close completely on this brilliantly terrifying chapter. When that day comes, I won’t be afraid to look up at the night sky because my atmosphere is stronger than before. The shooting stars will simply be shooting stars I can look at and admire again.

Every now and then I have the courage to make a wish. Lately it’s been for me and I’m not sorry for that. I wish for freedom, peace, and joy. After I throw that wish to the sky, I look around at my world and find ways to make other peoples’ wishes come true. The more we reach out to people and show love, the more wishes are granted, and the brighter they glow. I can’t wait to see a world full of people glowing with their own light, showing love to everybody, and helping them glow too. We pass it on. We help other people. Soon, we realize that those around us begin to help make our wishes come true. We can work together. Some days, my strength only goes so far, but when someone else is with me, I can keep walking. I guess wishes do come true these days, we just have to be brave enough to look. When we have the gift of seeing a wish come true, we have witnessed magic. The magic never left me, I guess, I just hadn’t learned how to see it yet.

Shooting stars are rocks we hit as we travel through space. My sky is filling again with beautiful twinkling lights. Sometimes, stars appear and surprise me with their glow. Those are the ones I treasure the most. When I look around my sky, some days I see more stars, other days I see less. It’s all beautiful to me again. Then, a shooting star. They’re quick, bright, and still take me by surprise. All I do is smile as I watch them burn up because that’s how they work, I know the science now and am thankful for my atmosphere. The girl on the rock by the river believed that shooting stars were magic. They’re crystal balls made of mystic powers that God would drop so we can put a wish on it for Him to see. It was all a wonderful fantasy. She loves magic and now, I do too.

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