What happened to the stars?

I reached my hand down and pulled up on the lever, feeling the inside of the passenger door slide against my hand as I dropped back. The sunroof was the perfect size to see The Big Dipper. He pointed it out to me like he'd done this before, and/or maybe it was some sort of high school inside joke of his.  But, I didn't care. Those sparkling, twinkling stars were too distracting to care.

The whole world - and now the whole universe - was right there, just for a moment. 

I shuddered as I wondered how big the sky stretched, and how small that made me. Coupled with the dizziness of tilting my head up, and I was giddy with sweet excitement. I remember feeling like I could do anything as long as I felt like that. 

Now, I wonder - what happened? 

I've gazed at the stars more times than I can count since that night of being 17 and on the cusp of adulthood. And, I've searched for that same romantic feeling I felt back then. But, it seems no matter how long I let their hypnotic twinklingdance across my pleading eyes, my mind is clouded with too much...what? Life? Too much life to let them in.

There's something about being a teenager and stargazing - especially with a paramour. It's all very Romeo and Juliet-esque, and no wonder why scenes of a young couple staring at the stars and pondering life are glamorized in so many movies and books. But, I think it's more than that - it's taking the time to realize where you are, how small you are, and maybe even who you are. When you're that young, the question marks are as huge as the sky.

Then, as time goes by, we become more responsible for ourselves and our lives and time. There are jobs, kids, spouses, bills, family, friends, birthdays, holidays - every corner we turn, there's another commitment calling our attention. Our world gets smaller. It gets convoluted. It's hard to see the stars through the pollution of life. Even if we look up, it's not for long enough - or serious enough. Those stars have been there for billions of years - they know when you don't mean it.

So...what happens next? We wait until we're in our 70s/80s/90s if we're lucky - when the nurse pushes our wheelchair out onto the veranda and we finally look up, knowing we have nowhere else to be...until we get there? Is that when we will feel weightless and full of wonder again? Is that when we will finally be quiet enough to listen to the sound of our hearts beating and our breath moving in and out, pushing and pulling our souls to live and be present?

Or...can we start now? What do we really have to lose? Dinner is a little late? We miss a TV show? A load of laundry gets put off another day?

We're alive...now.