Monday, November 08, 2004


Madre mia, I saw the aurora!

As I pulled into the driveway, (I was coming back home from the concert) I saw something like a laser beam cut across the sky from the east to the west. Puzzled by the strange wideness of the light and the unstable light intensity of the phenomenon, I hurried in to the backyard for a better view, and there they were, a couple of ethereal curtains of pale green light, gently wavering in the lower northeastern sky, unmistakably an aurora borealis. I called P, woke up my mother, and watched the ephemeral yet vibrant feast of light. Seeing the aurora weaken after about ten minutes, I went back in, sharing joy and disbelief with mom. I curled up in futon, and started to read the book I'd been reading for a few days.

Then P called me back, saying that it is even more bright and has spread all over the sky. I grabbed my camera, picked up the first winter jacket my hand felt in the dark closet, and rushed out to the backyard again. P was right: now numerous streams ran across the sky at an incredible speed, mostly from the east to the west, some from the north to the southwest. Several cloud-like patches had appeared here and there, and the streams were just countless. Flying dragons, reflections on the water surface seen from the bottom of a pool, steams... words I uttered in a vain attempt to compare the celestial spectacle above me lost their dazzle instantly as I uttered them, and before long I stood in awe, speechless, barely able to make nonverbal sounds of admiration for particularly dynamic streams and bright patches with rainbow gradation. After a good 45 minutes, I realized that my bare feet were an inch from frozen and that I have to get up at 7 for school tomorrow. I went back in happy and sorry at the same time, happy for being able to see it, sorry for having to leave it when it was still there.

It was my first time to see an aurora borealis in person, and I cannot be grateful enough to my sheer luck to be gazing up to the sky when the (probably one of the first few) stream of light flashed there. It was an impossible combination of delicacy and might, ephemera and eternity that brought me back to the primordial awe and mythical inspiration. I remember standing in the same awe in an opening in Guatemalan forest, under the sapphire dome of sky, studded with millions of flickering stars still visible even in the incredibly bright, cool, sharp moonlight. Celestial events, with their surreal scale and dynamics, have a magical power to gently yet decisively transfer us into a vast expanse of time and space, beyond the limit of our lives chained down to "now" and "here," to which we are so accustomed. When we are immersed in such events, many ancient myths come alive to us, reasserting their long-lost persuasion and dominance over us. At least I feel that way. And I am a rational person by day. It touches the deep part of human being where reason may not be able to place its bloody hands.


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