As a Londoner I hadn’t realised how infrequently I experience true silence and complete darkness, until I spent two nights in the desert in Jordan recently. The complete stillness, without a breath of wind, or the sound of another creature, was a rare and precious gift. Staring into the dark sky and really seeing the stars, recognising the haze of the Milky Way, and watching a shooting star brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of that childhood wonder; contemplating how many stars are up there, and knowing that you could never count them. It was a humbling reminder of our personal and individual insignificance.
We have an amazing capacity to create our own versions of the world; a personal bubble full of happiness, stress or a sense of achievement, or a mix of these and more. But these bubbles are in large part our own constructions. They can be constraining, or liberating, but they are ours. We accept them as reality, and are sometimes overwhelmed by them. Debt, unhappy relationships, or frustrations at work can assume disproportionate importance. Equally, a happy and fulfilled personal and work life often block out our contemplation of war, famine and disaster in other places, affecting other people. That night sky reminded me to hold on to the wonder and awe of childhood, because it allows us to imagine, to see outside perceived boundaries and to consider new possibilities. It frees us from the personal bubble, whether that bubble is currently a good or a bad place to be. And free of the bubble, each of us has endless potential; to make a difference, or not, as we choose.