U – The universe is out there. All you have to do is look up.
When I was in CanyonLands on Outward Bound, I saw the Milky Way for the first time. We pounded ten miles a day in full pack (sans weapons), and we were exhausted, hungry and exhilarated. For a pack of wimpy city girls, this was a brutal slog. Somehow, we fumbled through dinner. Food on the course was horrible, but that stripped everything down to basics. No fussing. Just eat, sleep, climb, and laugh, and then do it again for five days.
Luck was on our side, and the weather was good. Mild and dry. Perfect for the show. I crawled into my bag and closed my eyes. Unable to sleep, I lay in the crystalline desert stillness. Finally, I looked up and the Milky Way’s twin ribbons unfurled from horizon to horizon.
I didn’t sleep after that. If I had been a God-fearing woman, I would have celebrated such amazing beauty with a prayer. Instead, I just gaped until dawn nibbled away the glitter. Nothing, before or since, affected me the same way as that web of stars. It was miraculous, and it was real.
Two-thirds of the population of the western world has never seen the Milky Way. Light pollution is so rampant over the Earth, it creeps into the night like a brilliant rash, covering the East and West Coast of America, Europe and parts of South America. I feel privileged to have glimpsed our stars.