TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS: Shooting Stars and Social Progress 


When I lived in Florida, a small rodent wearing tight red pants told me that if I wished upon a shooting star, my dreams would come true.

I hated that small rodent, as well as the rest of his kingdom, but I sure liked the idea of granted wishes.

Last night, of course, I had my chance to try out his philosophy, as the annual Leonid meteor shower was live in concert, right above our heads. Somehow, don’t ask me, I actually got up at 4 in the morning to witness it.

Now the song says that it makes no difference who you are, and that anything said wisher desires will come to them. As I was too lazy to get up at 3 AM and drive to a locale sans light pollution, I ultimately racked up about 8 wishes. Not too shabby for a half hour’s work, though this must pale in comparison to the gains of those in rural areas who had the potential to see up to 600 desire-granting light bursts per hour.

There’s something to be said, I guess, for life outside the big city.

November’s Leonid shower is the visual display wrought when the earth glides through the astral garbage, as it were, left behind by the Tempel-Tuttle comet.

The collision of these streams of comet residue and our atmosphere creates what we call shooting stars, and those that could be witnessed last night were from trails left behind in 1767 and 1866.

It’s kind of like earth was swimming through a celestial yard sal-- if you think about it in a certain way.

I’ve always been a sucker for the stars, and especially for shooting stars. It’s like watching the outside trying to come in; the heavens knocking on our door. Meteors are like passion in motion, the flame symbolizing our curious relationship with the universe beyond.

But enough of my quasi-poetic ramblings.

Let’s get back to those eight little symbols of chance, my reward for overcoming my sleep addiction and bringing my tired ass outside.

Wishes, of course, are simply directed energy.

Unlike the spokesman for the Magic Kingdom, I think that superstition is a means of channeling desire, of meditating on a cause so that the self naturally begins to act in ways that promote whatever said cause might be.

Maybe you think this sounds ridiculous. Creating change, of course, requires not only positive energy, but a whole lot of dedication. Action must follow a thought, if a thought is to become an actuality.

How nice it would be, though, if all of Memphis could have stood outside last night and ruminated on fixing our stalled school system, or on creating a positive way in which we might eliminate the vast problem we have with violent crime.

If a thought can change behavior, then maybe some collective thinking could help this city figure out a few of its major problems, with or without the stars.

But I don’t know--perhaps we could use the help…


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