I remember, when I was about fifteen, going out into the back garden with a blanket on a clear night, sitting on a concrete step and staring up at the sky. The air was crisp, there was frost on the ground and I had my trusty Discman with me. Like most people, I had amazing taste in music as a teenager. As such, either a Backstreet Boys album or the soundtrack to Coyote Ugly would have been spinning around in there.
I remember how tiny I felt staring up at that multitude of stars. I sat there and started to count. I tried to identify a square of space and work out how many I could see but every time I looked more closely, some would disappear and more would appear. I sat there for an hour or so, trying not to panic at the thought of my utter insignificance (and the statistical likelihood of an extra-terrestrial invasion).
I still look up when there’s a clear sky. It doesn’t matter where I am. I could be in Castleconnell, in Switzerland, in Connemara, in France, in Chile, in Kerry, in Ghana.
I’ve heard or read, many times, that we are born alone and we die alone but I’m a twin. He’s the salt to my pepper. We shared a womb, a cot, a pram and a bedroom. I’ve never really been alone. We used to sing the song below when we were children. (Sometimes we still do *shhhh*).
The night sky connects me to everything. It connects me to my family, to my friends, everyone I’ve ever had the pleasure or displeasure of meeting and those I haven’t met yet. It connects me to the past as it’s happening, right in front of my eyes, light years ago. We are made from matter and we return to it.
But in essence, that night sky reminds me that if I am not alone, no one else is either – not really.