Upon meeting him for the first time, an artist whom I have come to greatly admire and respect said to me that his constellation had gotten brighter because my star was now in his galaxy. I have never forgotten the impact his gracious remark had on me. How remarkable and utterly beautiful to think of our friends and family -- and strangers, too; all of the people we meet along the way -- as stars, moving fluidly about and around us to create our own personal constellations. Star maps by which we can guide ourselves through our life's journey. Some stars shine brighter than others. Some stars are large, some small. Some stars that started so brightly fade out, making way for new ones. Some are near, some far.

In exploring the origins and history of constellations, I happened upon this statement: The outcome depends on the configuration of influences at the time. This sentence can, in a context of astronomy, reference scientific influences when it comes to how the stars aligned and "shaped" themselves into the constellations. But I like to think that beyond science, there is most definitely a sense of what I call fate at work in configuring and influencing who and what we are. Over the past few years I have been paying a lot more attention to things that happen "by accident" and I believe deeply that who we are and what we become as we continue through this life is dependent upon the chance or purposed meetings we have with people. People happen into and move out of our lives for so many different reasons -- causing us joy one moment and grief the next, causing us inexplicable happiness and unspeakable rage, fulfilling a wish and dashing a hope. How we respond and react to those comings and goings, how we grow and change by virtue of those comings and goings -- this is how we nurture ourselves.

Normally we wouldn't think to ask ourselves, "Why am I meant to have this experience with this person?" But if we did take a moment to ask this question, I am convinced the answer is secured in the fact that we must constantly intensify our personal star maps to illuminate ourselves and our lives, to keep us from stumbling in the dark. As stars are born, combust, reflect light, or die out, so too do the people with whom and among who we interact -- they inspire a birth of new ideas, they allow us to experience deep emotion and feeling, they reflect us back to ourselves, they leave us changed, touched, and somehow equipped to move ahead on our path.

While on an island this weekend, I looked up at the night sky bejewelled with stars and I thought about my friends and my family -- and, too, about the people who have passed through my life at one time or another, and the people yet to come. Peoples of every ancient culture saw worlds in the stars, created the constellations to make sense of chaos, to light their dark. And how extraordinary and somehow perfectly balanced it is that we, then, can see worlds in people, find ourselves drawn to people who help us make sense of chaos, and stay close to the people who light our dark.

(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks LLC


  1. Anonymous12/16/2009

    So beautifully put Emma! I too believe in your theory, feeling as though this last year of my life were a wonderful star lit journey, meeting all of you, each a spark lighting my way toward fulfilment of my dream. It is so true! And when you think it's the darkest your life can ever be, along comes another star to illuminate your heart again. Powerful, thoughts, words, analogy...thank you. Hugs Jackie

  2. Anonymous12/16/2009

    I am so lucky to have you as my brighest star.

  3. Beautiful thoughts, Emma. Every star placed perfectly.

  4. Anonymous12/16/2009

    Beautifully said, Emma. I've always thought we are the sum of the people in our lives.

  5. I have a world map at my desk and it shows the flags of every country. The star is the most popular visual element of all. The sun and the moon make appearances too, but the star is supreme.

  6. Anonymous12/18/2009

    What a lovely analogy. I am so glad to be there in your constellation. And you've been a bright and shining star in mine.