More often than not, my husband is the one who sees things first. A hawk in a tree, deer in a field—he’s just faster to see them.
Last night, we went out to a nearby spot where there was a good view of the sky, watching for a swiftly-moving bright light--the Interational Space Station, with the shuttle Endeavour docked to it. A tiny article in the paper had said it was due to pass overhead both Saturday and Sunday, and it had rained Saturday night. So there we stood, with fingers crossed.
We knew it would be a long shot. First of all, we weren’t quite sure where to look The paper had said it would rise in the north-northwest, travel the southwestern sky near the new moon, and head south. The window of opportunity would be brief—approximately five minutes, from 9:26 to 9:31. And the sky was clouding up.
My amazingly resourceful husband had brought his compass, so after he got us oriented, we had a pretty good idea of where to look. There were still large areas of clear sky,since the clouds were patchy, and while there were moments when the moon was obscured, we knew where it was, and I—equally resourceful—had brought my binoculars and focused them on it. So we waited and, however childish it might seem, deep inside, I wanted to see it first.
9:26 came. Nothing but a few stars. 9:27. A few more stars, nothing else. Wait—is that it, I asked, pointing to a bright light moving beneath the moon. No—it was going in the wrong direction, and it was blinking. Just an airplane. We watched the plane disappear. Wait—look. I pointed up. Husband wasn’t sure. I looked through my binoculars. That had to be it, I said, handing them to him: it was big, at least as bright as Venus, non- blinking, and moving fast. After a moment, he agreed (and the little kid inside me shot her fist in the air, yelling “yes!!!”). We watched it pass the stationary stars, until it disappeared in the clouds.
Sometimes I think my mind is like that sky, studded with ideas rather than stars, each shining with its own level of brightness. Every now and then, though, something special streaks by, brighter than the rest. Its window of opportunity is brief, and it can vanish before I even see it. But if I’m alert and look carefully for it, I just might see it—and it will be worth remembering.