I was lucky enough to sleep here last night and see the Aurora in 40 degrees, amid stars.
Serendipity in the form of my allergy to dogs, good weather, and my dog-owning friend's foresight at booking a Forest Service cabin conspired to give me my first ever September night's sleep outside, under the Northern Lights in Juneau.
Along with orcas and bubble feeding humpback whales, the Aurora Borealis is fucking dope, and even after more than a decade of living here, it never, ever gets old. In that way, it feels to me like Nature's version of the New York City skyline from the Triboro Bridge at night. It generates that same sense of wonder that something so spectacular can actually exist.
As cynical and jaded as I am, I will never be too cool for Mother Nature's school. Looking at the Northern Lights makes me feel tiny and more insignificant than a barnacle in the best possible way. My work stress, an abundance of hateful internet commenters and trolls, eczema, five extra pounds, disrespectful kids acting up on too little sleep--all of it just sort of recedes into the backlight of the Aurora.
Surely since humanity set foot near the poles of the earth, that solar energy had the same power to stop time and transfix anyone who saw it. And it makes you realize you're actually not any more significant than a barnacle. That these pink, green, and white ribbons of light streaked through the sky before humanity ever existed, and they'll keep doing it long after we're gone.
Someday, all our violence and hubris will wipe us off the map, and maps off the map too. I won't care that someone is being an asshole to me on the Internet, or that I have to be in contentious litigation, or that my kids are talking back to me, or any of that bullshit.
The Aurora has a way of making you feel the truth of that; it feels playful and majestic, and designed to make you remember how profoundly unimportant and expendable you really are.
I feel like it's telling me to just keep putting myself out into the world, in a good and a real way, for as long as I possibly can.