Thursday, August 14, 2003

sixty-six and change

I watched Mars last night.

It held steady and bright to the lower right of the moon from where I stood.

The little boy in me who loved astronomy books from the Tim-Life series was a bit disappointed at the lack of redness. Growing up, I learned that Mars is the red planet, named for the Roman god of war (who, of course, was derived from the Greek Ares). So I fully expected even just the slightest crimson tinge, a speck of blood against the velvet backdrop.

But it shone fiercer than stars - excepting the full moon, it was the brighest thing in the sky.

Scientists say that the next time this happens will be in 66 or so years. Assuming I'm alive, which is highly unlikely, I'll be 110. Sage, who slept through it tonight, will see it for the first time when she's 67.

There are things you truly see or experience once in your life, and their qualities are never alike.

Some are life-changing and cataclysmic, like sudden reckless passion that engulfs you like a sheet of flame from nowhere.

Others happen in silence, like the time the fracture in your heart finally, quietly, grows too big to arrest when love goes elsewhere.

A few are bereft of drama, and offer no new startling understanding of life or the universe.

They simply occur and you watch without words, because, really, what is there to say? Your participation only that of a witness.

Like looking at an unmoving Mars.

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