How A Visit to The Planetarium Made Me Feel Better About Life


Miriam was suddenly obsessed with the planets. It started with an episode of Bubble Guppies and then went on to some obscure YouTube videos. Planets with faces singing about galaxies and atmospheres and volcanic soil. There were nightly quizzes about dwarf planets and which planet I like best. At five years old, she was totally over my head. I was still at the learning level of ur-ANUS vs. YOUR-anus, purely for my own juvenile amusement.

Liberty Science Center is huge and spotless and filled with endless exhibits. It’s a lot to absorb in one visit. Your price of admission gets you A LOT! And the membership option is totally worth it, too.

We chose a thirty-minute planetarium show called “To Worlds Beyond”. We weren’t sure how sitting still was going to go. Because…she’s five. As we climbed the steep stairs and filtered towards the center into the seats, she was in awe already. The bright white dome was discombobulating and exciting.

The show began with a real live scientist telling us about the planetarium and showing us the current positions of the planets on the dome. I learned that, for where we live, the best time to see the planets is early morning. I immediately had aspirations of rising early with Miriam, running out to our deck and gazing at the morning sky. I’ll have a steaming cup of coffee in my hand. Miriam will be dressed in adorable pajamas instead of the clothes she passed out in the night before. I’ll have a stain-free robe and pajamas on, too. Fresh-faced with a bun that looks more like an up-do.

But back to reality. Miriam was instantly entranced. She was shushing us incessantly, as we tried to point out planets or constellations as they appeared. She wanted to be “one” with the universe. She wanted to watch the show unfold before her. On her own terms. I snuck side-eye glances at her face. She was studying the movie and quietly mouthing recognizable words to herself. I tried to get into “the zone” as well.

I was surprised at the level of relaxation I felt. Even in this giant theatre, filled with people and a steep staircase, I was totally relaxed. And then I let myself flow with the movie. From planet to planet, through atmospheric gasses and dust, I felt…fine. I felt…everything will be okay. Not just for our visit to the planetarium that day. But for everything.

Money and job worries…
Health issues…
Family problems…

Seeing the expanse of the galaxy, filled with unanswered questions, I felt my anxieties ease. I thought about the loss of my mother and son in a whole new way. Did they now know the answers to all the mysteries? I hoped so.

Feeling so small made me feel happier. The pressure of life eased for a little while. All I can do is concentrate on my little section of the galaxy. And do the best I can to make it beautiful.

A few times a week, Miriam asks, “Mommy, what’s your favorite planet?”
I usually say Saturn. I tell her it’s because “I want to dance on the rings of Saturn.”
“No, Mommy. You like Uranus. Uranus has rings too.”

And as I giggle to myself like a twelve-year-old boy, I realize I’m doing just fine in my tiny section of the galaxy.


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