Ignorance is Bliss

Harry peered into the heavens with his 8 inch Celestron. It wasn’t the biggest telescope that he had ever used. Having gotten his Masters degree in astronomy, he had used a few “real” telescopes. These telescopes, though, were used to do actual science, rather than just stare off into the distance, as he liked to do with his telescope, which he had named Simon. He had liked taking spectra using the big telescopes to learn things about the stars, he had adored being able to examine the makeup of such distant objects and predict their ages and ultimate fates. Searching for truth had filled one need in him, but there was another need that it didn’t fill. This second need was the one that had driven him to astronomy in the first place, back before he knew what astronomy was really about. It was the need to just search and wonder.

Harry would take Simon out into the backcountry in his backpack whenever he could and spend hours just looking. During the summer months, when the community college that he worked at was closed, he got out a lot more than the rest of the year, but even in the thick of the semester, he always made the time to get away for at least one weekend every couple of months.

Had anyone ever said to Harry that it was better off to relish his ignorance, he would, having the heart of a teacher and the soul of a scientist, have taken it as the deepest insult imaginable and disagreed with every fiber of his being. Harry by no means thought that he knew everything, but he had never intentionally kept himself in the dark, and was of the strict mindset that knowledge, whatever its form, was a good thing; something to work for, earn, and enjoy. He could never “relish” ignorance.

He might have been surprised, then, to find out that on that particular evening, while standing with Simon on a rocky peak, it was his ignorance of the cantaloupe sized meteor barreling towards his head at terminal velocity that had let his last moments be blissful. The last thing he did was grin, marveling at the fact that the seeing was so good that, even with Simon’s little mirror, he could see the dark dust lane on the Sombrero Galaxy, only a little irked by whatever it was behind him causing all that light.


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