There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

reaching for the stars

R A R E L Y,  D O  W E  get a good look at the stars anymore. The ambient light created by civilization drowns them out and dims the majesty of the universe of which we're only an infinitesimal part. Living in the city, it has been a good while since I was somewhere remote enough to look up at the night sky and see the humbling visual magic of the stars. It's no wonder that we wish upon them and they figure prominently in tree decorations. Legend has it that the initiator of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther was inspired, on a late walk home, to first light an evergreen with candles to illustrate to his family the twinkling of stars he saw through the fir trees.

C  I T Y - D W E L L E R S  like myself have to look to the twinkling cityscape before us to get even a semblance of the unfettered view of the cosmos. Somehow, I think the separation from such an awesome spectacle has a numbing effect on our humanity — blinded by the light, indeed. If we all could be alone with a clear view of the stars for even a few hours a week, it might give us the humbling perspective to realize our place in our tiny part of the universe. The nighttime counterpart to the healing powers  of the sun, it does make one wonder why we forget to seek a regular dose of the night sky. 

I N   R E A C H I N G  for the stars, we build our cities with taller and taller skyscrapers. And through the ambient light that surround them, block the view of the stars in the sky. The recently-opened Burg Kalifa in Dubai (an insanely futuristic-looking city) currently holds the record as the "tallest building in the world." It is a quite spectacular building architecturally. And being ever - cognisant of all things "decorated tree," I couldn't help but notice the building's resemblance to a giant holiday tree during parts of the fireworks show  surrounding it during its opening on January 4th. And I have to wonder if in the construction of the building, the builders had a topping out ceremony. Placing an evergreen tree or assemblage upon the last beam at the top of the structure upon its completion is an age-old building custom to symbolize growth and bring luck. That would be quite an awesome spot to decorate a tree (at 2,625 feet)!

I N  W I S H I N G  upon the stars, they play tricks with our vision. It's almost impossible not to think of the utopian Disney song "When You Wish Upon a Star." Reading the the lyrics goes right to the heart of why we all dream bigger and bigger: 

When you wish upon a star 
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

STAR CONSTRUCTIONS | (Above, right) I've collected these three-dimensional laser-cut star ornaments in the last few years. Although amazing constructions in themselves, they're nothing like the newest "tallest building in the world", Burg Kalifa, which opened this month in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

photo (top, right): collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

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