1.12 Shooting Star

TORONTO, ONTARIO: I went for a walk last night across the bridge to the waterfront. On my way back, I saw a shooting star. In my lifetime, I have seen a few shooting stars and my kneejerk reaction is always the same: I scramble for something to wish for. It was quite bright and unmistakable – the star ignited brighter then all the others, hung there for just a moment and fell towards the Earth like someone knocking a glass off a table, its long tail trailing behind it. In moments such as this, I feel that instinct is the best policy. Whatever pops into my mind first must be what I am most jonesing for at that particular time. Sometimes it comes immediately but other times I am scrambling. I feel as though there is a time limit on the wish actually coming true, that there is an imaginary stopwatch in the sky. For some reason, I have it in my head that when the shooting star disappears, my chances of a wish coming true goes with it. This time I was pretty quick and I think I’m safe. For the remainder of my walk, I tried to think of where this belief in shooting stars came from, racked my brains but and couldn’t find an answer. Did it come from movies? Something ingrained in our culture?

First of all, a shooting star is not a star at all. According to Universe Today, the term shooting star is “…another name for a meteoroid that burns up as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. These are objects as small as a piece of sand to as large as a boulder. If they are larger than a boulder, astronomers call them asteroids. A meteoroid becomes a meteor when it strikes the atmosphere and leaves a bright tail behind. The bright line that we see in the sky is caused by the ram pressure of the meteoroid.”

So, we should be saying shooting meteor. I’m okay with that. However, I was curious to find out where this idea of making a wish came from but there are little to no details out there. Of course, I am lazy and my research mostly consisted of searching Google.

It is our belief in these wish fulfillment situations that interested me the most. I guess bearing witness to this wonder of the universe is a sign of hope. However, it can also be like buying a lottery ticket. I want something for nothing just as much as the next person, but why would we believe that because we viewed a shooting meteor, everything that is wrong in our life would be righted? Yes, I am a cynic.

There is an argument that says if you wish upon a falling meteor, that goal/wish is placed in your head and you will pursue it more seriously and eventually achieve whatever it is. Okay, but that’s a little sad to me because then you would attribute your success to the meteor and not to your hard work.

I should just leave it all alone. Similar to religion, if people want to believe, so be it. Not my place to burst the bubble and convince them otherwise. Another thought is that falling meteors are difficult to see, a rarity – especially in pollution-tainted cities. Does this mean that people in the country see more falling stars? And if so, do they make more wishes? And if so, by comparison, do they see more wishes come true then the average city dweller? And further, a falling meteor is sometimes viewed as coming from the heavens, that there is a divinity behind it, a message being sent and you are the receiver. But what is the message – I’m certain it’s not asking you to make a wish. How selfish.

All I know is this: I went out for a walk at an unusual time. I looked out at the water for a while, kicked around some stones and headed back up the ramp over the highway. I was put there at that point in time and that falling meteor decided to stream across the sky right in front of me. I could trace back hours and days as to why I was walking across that bridge at that particular moment. Remove one or two elements and I would have been a few minutes – even one minute – off and wouldn’t have seen it. And so, without hesitation, I made a wish within the allotted time and for immediately after anyways, I had a glimpse of it coming true. What did I wish for? I’m not telling because then it wouldn’t come true.