Once upon a time, a young, naive boy went camping with his Dad. This was somewhere by the sea in Shek O and the air was damp and the night was warm.
And the Dad was so excited about this trip. “You’ll see!” the Dad would cry, “it’s going to be spectacular!”
“We’ll breathe in the fresh sea air. We’ll cook us up some s’mores. And we’ll see Orion and Scorpius and the Ursa Major and Lyra — we’ll see worlds beyond ours. And in the morning we’ll see a sunrise worth dying for.”
But the young, naive boy was still young and naive, so he did not understand. Grudgingly he trotted along with his Dad to Cape D’Aguilar, where they set up their tent and built their little fire. And when the night came and the stars revealed themselves, the stupid young boy rolled his eyes and wished he were out with his friends instead.
But the Dad was beside himself with joy. He gaped and gawked at the twinkling stars, as if he couldn’t believe their majesty. The stars shone and sparkled in return, burning fiercely in the night.
And the Dad reached over the fire to the young, naive boy (who was still sulking about the trip), and said to his son, “You remember that old quote? From the old comic books you used to read?” The Dad looked up at the stars and pointed, “‘They are so far away, and their light takes so long to reach us; all we ever see are their old photographs.’”
“Can you imagine, son, if aliens were real, and if they were looking at us from 65 million light years away? All they’d see would be dinosaurs roaming the earth. It’ll be like an old photograph: our light takes so long to reach them.”
But the young, naive boy was still young and naive, and he did not understand. Still he rolled his eyes in annoyance and still he complained about the hot humid air, all the while his Dad laughed the night away.
And it is strange to see someone so young to be so fed up with the infinity of the sky, and to see someone so much his elder to have such childlike wonder. As if the roles were switched; curiosity escapes the stupid young boy.
And when the sunrise came the Dad shook his son awake, to look up to the sky and see rays of sunshine burst through the seams of the clouds, and see the sky turn pink then orange then red, and see the sea glow and reflect, and see the sun peek through the top of the clouds. And at last the sky turned orange then pink then blue again, with the sun hovering firmly over all creation.
But the young, naive boy was still young and naive, and that is why he did not understand. He looked at beautiful stars but couldn’t see them, he looked at the beautiful sunrise but couldn’t see it. What he did see was how the weather was too hot and how Game of Thrones was getting worse and how there was school tomorrow. In the face of hope and beauty he only saw his own little misfortunes, and that is why he was unhappy.
And it is so arrogant of him to think only of himself, despite his father trying so hard to bond with him. The way he pines and pouts about the insignificant things, and doesn’t consider the bigger picture. How myopic the naive little boy is, to be so concerned about his insignificant problems that he occupies all of his time with them, and sees not the beautiful stars twinkling in the night. How he trades beauty for selfish cynicism, not knowing how many people would have died to see that sunrise.
And it is so arrogant of us to complain about the things we complain about. The way we shriek and shout about the insignificant things, and don’t consider the bigger picture. How we complain about unrealistic body images on Instagram and how hard it is to be a woman in a first world country and how my candidate did not win the last election and therefore the world is doomed. All the while there are boys and girls in West Africa who are child soldiers, all the while there is a trash pile in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas. All the while there are children who are my race and younger than me in mainland China who make the clothes I wear. Not to say that our problems are trivial, but perhaps there are more pressing matters to deal with first.
And although the naive little boy is still young and naive, there is always hope. Because with luck he will grow up one day, and on that day he will perhaps lay his slight problems aside to make room for the real problems at hand. And perhaps one day he will appreciate all that he already has, instead of rolling his eyes and wishing he were out with his friends instead. Perhaps he simply gets too wrapped up with his own problems sometimes, and that makes it hard to see the world in high resolution. There is hope for him yet, for hope is found in everything we see, but only if we’re brave enough to look for it.