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  • jrblackburnsmith

Northern Lights


Image: The night sky over my backyard on May 10, 2024


Last night, the Northern Lights were visible over central Ohio and the view was incredible. I remember seeing the Northern Lights as a kid once. We lived in northeast Ohio then, a few miles from Lake Erie. When I say I remember, I have to admit that I don't remember the sky at all. What I remember is Dad holding me up on his shoulders and pointing out the lights. I have no idea if I really saw what he was trying to show me or if I just looked in the general direction he was pointed and said yes. I would have been five or six, which makes me question if I was the one on his shoulders at all, or if it was one of my younger brothers. So, all I probably saw was Dad holding one of my brothers and pointing out the Northern Lights. But something about that experience is stuck in my memory as important.


(Writer's Note: I written before about faulty memories. I have a very vivid memory of Dad pointing out the Big and Little Dippers to me and showing me how they are different. We were looking back and forth from one to the other. Now when I look up into the night sky, I realize I can, depending on season and time of night, see one or the other, but never both at the same time.)


I'd ask my older brother about that night we saw the Northern Lights (if I was six, he would have been nine) but as I've mentioned before, he makes stuff up, so he would probably tell me how the lights spelled out his name. I'll concede that it is easier to spell Andy than Jefferson, but back then it was just Jeff, so I don't know.


What was so amazing and beautiful last night was not just the colors --they actually are more vibrant in the photos than they seemed to be to my eyes-- but the way the light streaked across the sky. It was as if you could see the individual beams of light streaking from space down to the far horizon.



Image: Staring straight up into the night sky, May 10, 2024


Equally amazing was the strange sense of vertigo that you get staring up into the night sky. Many people describe vertigo as being dizzy, but I think of it as a sense of being unbound, as if gravity has no hold on you and at any moment you might launch into space and hurtle off into the unknown.


Think about how many times in our history, men and women have stood on a precipice, at the edge of the unknown, and have stepped out on faith and will to conquer it. That journey can be physical, intellectual or spiritual --maybe I should throw emotional on the list as well-- but on some level that defines the human experience. I love that fact that mystery remains one of the inherent components of life and I dread an age where all things are known. How boring would that be?


Love: a story of grief and desire is now available as an audiobook! Available on amazon, audible.com and wherever audiobooks are sold.


Win a free Kindle edition of Love: a novel of grief and desire: I work with Reader's Favorite on the Kindle book giveaway. If you go to readersfavorite.com/book-giveaway you can sign up for the monthly giveaway. You can scroll through the list of giveaways (over 500 each month) or sort the list by title or author to find Love: a novel of grief and desire and put your name in for this month's drawing. Good luck!

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