I’d started to get excited about the numbers. A long trip is steady and with occasional moments of unusual beauty, but mainly it’s a constant level of low-key pleasure. As I’ve said before in these pages, your mind wanders, and craves more amusement than mere colourful baubles suspended in the ether.
And so I’d noted the total distance travelled on this epic trip of mine was about to tick past 100,000 light years. I jumped into the system which had taken me past this landmark – an ordinary brown dwarf, eight dead planets, and a solitary, small, landable moon.
I set Cleo down and commemorated (fanfare!) One Hundred Thousand light years (remember when FIFTY seemed a big deal?) and took a moment to contemplate everything and nothing. Several nebulae stared impassively down from above me. I felt peaceful. Then, as I had still some distance to run, I set off once more.
Four or five jumps later, I realised with a jolt that I hadn’t logged the name of the system I landed in. And then I laughed. Because it wasn’t the distance travelled, or the system name I needed. I’d already had all I’d needed—the simple sight of those nebulae, which I’d never seen before, and who knows, perhaps won’t see again.
It’s not the tracks in the sky or on the map that count. It’s the desire lines we carve, with love, into our own hearts and minds. There are so many places to go, and infinite ways to reach them. The galaxy is vast, and I am just another human; another human small.
And that’s exciting.