One of western culture’s greatest collective fear is the fear of the dark. This fear has been with humanity longer than any written records, and countless stories and myths were created to ignorantly perpetuate that fear. Well into today, that irrational perpetuation is continued through the news outlets, repeatedly reporting of violent crimes taking place from people lurking in the shadows, or psychotic individuals in extremely remote places waiting for someone to park in just the wrong spot. A fear of the big, bad wolf or of the ever-menacing grizzly bear insure that we keep away from nature at night as well, and yet, if we’re to have truly successful night shots, these are the places we need to be to do so. It’s these fears that will prevent many from not just capturing a truly dark sky, but also from even just experiencing one.
Fortunately, none of those fears hold any weight at all, at least for the most part. Crimes certainly do happen, but consider when and where many of them take place. Think of the tragic mass shootings that have taken place in America. When and where did they take place? School while in session, an occupied movie theater, post offices during business hours, etc. Very rarely, if ever, do we ever hear about someone disappearing because they were on their way out to admire a night sky. On the contrary, people such as John Muir sought out nature at all hours to actually feel safety and tranquility. The only fears we have of the dark are the ones we take with us from our illuminated homes, heavily bordered from the outside world. Everything else out there is simply waiting to be appreciated and admired.
Only once we begin to conquer this fear do we begin to see the laughable excuses we’ve been using to not appreciate what’s been there all along, throughout our evolution. The night sky is a reminder of who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going. If you consider that everything in the natural world, including us, is made up of atoms that were once stars, this makes us all stardust. Therefore, looking up into a night sky is like looking into a sort of cosmic mirror. We see something in the night sky that we can’t see anywhere else, a piece of ourselves that’s invisible everywhere else we look.
Until we can collectively conquer this fear, we are in danger of losing this sight forever. It’s one of our greatest natural treasures that we’re ignorantly allowing to slip away based solely on fears that carry very little, if any, weight. Overcoming these fears is certainly not an overnight process, but the more you allow yourself to be swept away into the quiet, solitude of a dark sky, the more you’ll begin to realize the universe of wonders and excitement that lie in such a quiet and seemingly still skyscape of small sources of flickering lights. Use that time to find a piece of yourself that you never realized you were missing.