My husband and I love astronomy. We are serious AMATEURS, but we adore the night sky. So much so, we planned our wedding dependent on the full moon and it didn't disappoint. It made a glorious appearance, just as we were saying our vows. Seriously, our guests gasped. It was awesome.
Comet NEOWISE however, truly disappointed me. And taught me a huge lesson in managing my expectations and disappointment.
We have been trying desperately (okay, it's been mostly me) to take time to see the comet. In a household with two busy ADHD parents, three teenage ADHD kids, and, caring for an aging parent, finding time can be a real challenge. It takes dedication and obsession (read - hyper-focus) to add something unplanned into our already busy lives.
If you're not familiar with this comet, that's understandable. It was only discovered in March of 2020! It's so new and exciting! Not some boring, old, "see you in 75 years" comet. NEOWISE won't be back here for more than 6000 years.
I felt so much PRESSURE to SEE this COMET!
Last night, we managed the time.
One of our favorite treats is ice cream. We know all the best places to go. There is this amazing, old school, drive-in ice cream place near us. It was the perfect spot. Out in the countryside, surrounded by fields, we could indulge our biggest vice and enjoy the stellar show. I was so excited!
Our ice cream place has been closed for months. You know, COVID? And, it is very popular, so, it was packed. We had to line up for about a forty five minutes. The window to best view NEOWISE was closing, fast. I was literally bouncing in line, trying to will it to move faster.
I'm GenX, just so we're clear. Bouncing in a line up is not age-appropriate behaviour, apparently. (Whatever.)
It's times like these when I truly understand my younger clients. You're so excited about something that is very important to you, and, you use your best patience skills. You breathe. You use your tech to distract you. Then, your body starts to move without your even thinking about it because the excitement is just - going - to...BURST! Any sudden delay and you SNAP.
"Tara! Why did you just punch your brother?"
Thankfully, maturity and I have made friends. Mostly.
Back in line the clock is ticking. I'm bouncing, staring at the quarter moon which is beginning to set. I'm now worried that we are going to miss our chance. My loving husband suggests that I take a walk through the back field, with our middle son, and try to find the gassy ball blazing through the sky.
Great idea! And off I trounce.
Too much light. Too many trees. Too many greenhouses. Sigh...
We head back to line, but I remain hopeful that if we get away from the more populated area and out in the countryside, we will finally spot our quarry. Thankfully, for the meantime, there is ice cream to soothe my woes.
Now sugar-fueled, we drive into the darkness, searching for an appropriate viewing place. Impatience causes us to just stop on the side of a, thankfully, rarely traveled road. We search the sky. Nothing.
One chance in 6000 years and nothing. My heart fell. The kids kept searching, but I had given up. It was late. I was tired. There was work in the morning. The night was fruitless. I was grumpy.
Then, my husband points out the orange glowing, setting moon. It's beautiful. We give each other a warm hug while gazing at our favorite sky object. The kids join in so that we are one wiggly, bug-sprayed smelling, ball of grateful family.
I give my head a shake. I was willing to overlook all the silly, exciting, tasty, wonderful things that happened this night because I was so hyper-focused on ONE goal.
Our night wasn't fruitless. It was a cornucopia of joyful family memories that we can cherish for a lifetime.
I'm reminded to remain open to the joys that life will always give you. I determine to restructure my thinking.
Thank you for standing us up, NEOWISE. <3