On Clear Summer Nights

The history of the universe shines down on us each night.

My dad only took me camping one time in my life. I was eleven, and we huddled in our sleeping bags and looked up at the sky. It was littered with stars. Being a creature of the suburbs, I’d never seen that many stars before.

We talked for hours. My dad told me about his theory of time travel. He figured that if time travel were possible, it would involve traveling faster than the speed of light and observing Earth from some distant world. The physics of his theory didn’t make much sense, but it was one of the few times he ever shared anything close to the fantastical with me.

Most of our communication was firmly grounded in the practical.

I have never been firmly grounded in the practical. My entire life has been filled with the fantastical.

Dad has been gone for three years now. That night we spent camping was probably the zenith of our relationship. Most of the time, we were arguing or ignoring each other.

I’ve spent my entire adulthood working hard to be a different kind of man and father than he was.

But, the one thing I have accepted from him was the sense of wonder in the face of the cosmos.

I spend as many summer nights as I can with my children under the heavens, pondering what ancient, primordial mysteries we could unravel if we could see what was happening in all those solar systems millions of light-years away. And I think about my one camping trip with my dad.

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