In a Sky Full of Stars


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the stars. Maybe it’s because the crowd funding campaign that I implemented for the Eastbay Astronomical Society (EAS) recently came to a successful conclusion. We raised more than $26,000 for Phase I of the Zeiss Universarium planetarium projector restoration—woohoo for EAS and me!—and I’m hopeful we will obtain the necessary funds to see the project through to completion. It’s an exciting time for Bay Area stargazers. It’s an exciting time for me: the EAS campaign, the book release in June, another book in the works, a redecorated house….

Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about the stars. Staring up at the sky on crisp, cold nights while my daughter Katie swings. Studying the constellations I learned as a child and reflecting on life, my goals, and where I want to go in the time I have left.

I’ve been thinking how every star is individual and unique—just like snowflakes. And people. Pondering how, in a sky full of stars, only a few blaze trials to points unknown. Only a few intrepid souls learn to fly.

It’s taken five decades of hard work, but I am one of the lucky ones. Any day now I feel I will soar.

I didn’t set out to do this. In fact, my upbringing taught me to play it safe, to shine bright in my designated place. But somewhere in the strange and magical journey of my messy, unplanned life, I shed that rule, shed it like a butterfly leaving its cramped and disintegrating cocoon—unsure what to do with the wings I’d grown.

5f18feb5ac87c43171bf2b63bce201c3Now, years later, I know that I need to fly so that I can show Katie how. I need to pull her up when her fragile wings fail. I could say I’m doing it for her, and that would be partly true, but mostly I am doing it for me, selfish me. Because why would anyone stick to one place in a universe as large as ours? Why not blaze a trail—or two—or three?

Why not I ask?

It took me years to understand and accept, but for me, sticking to one place, one interest, one job is as impossible as asking a star not to shine. I will always be juggling too many books, projects, and passions. I cannot do otherwise. This is simply not who I am.

I do not begrudge you if you desire to shine bright in your designated place. In fact, on some days, I envy the simplicity of such a life. Just please, please don’t ask me to do the same—because I can’t. I am hard-wired to explore, discover, create. I need variety, and challenge, and change. I am a blazer of trails. A traveler. A starter of things. A leader. After nearly 52 years on this planet, I finally know that I am built to soar.

I could say I need to do it for Katie, but really, I need it for me.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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