David O'Connor

(Note: This short piece was written some years ago but is presented in case it can still be of use to readers. David is now far beyond his 42nd birthday, but still keeps his youth.)

At this November's midpoint, I saw my 42nd birthday. An actuary, I suppose, would say I am at least half dead. But that dark and clear night, driving in my car to give an after dinner speech, I was watching the news. Not on a television: out my window I noticed gaudy Jupiter rising in the east, with less gaudy though no less beautiful Saturn in its wake, both chasing a fine half moon near its zenith. I watched the news at 11 later that week, when the Leonid meteor shower gave me something to see.

I am embarrassed to be a man who appreciates so little of this wonderful entertainment, and I am resolved to cultivate myself. To lack an ear for opera, a tongue for wine, are things I can endure. But how have I come to know so little of the sky and all its heights? - The early dark of late fall is a gift of a providential order; it makes it easy to remember that man is not the most important thing in the universe.

I recall a sign on a colleague's door: "Literature is news that stays news". Then a star must be news that has always been news, and always will be. The next time you are tempted by a small lie, teach a child how to find a constellation. And if you are tempted by a big lie, buy a telescope, and remember where you are.

Have a happy new year, and when the year is old, then have a happy day, and do not fret if none of the best things in it are new.


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