He was running. Running from something? Someone? I wasn’t sure, I just saw him running. Crying? Wheezing and panting, face pale and beaded with perspiration. I watch his legs quiver and wobble with each step, as if they’re no longer strong enough to support the invisible, enormous weight on his shoulders. As if he would quake and topple over with the smallest tickle of a breeze. He stopped a few feet away from my house. There was no light besides the moon’s haunting glow, so I assumed he couldn’t see I was outside, watching him. Clearly out of breath, he collapsed to his knees. It’s almost breathtaking how broken his back looks from here, all fabrics caving over blades of bones, sharp angles and emaciated lines. He lied onto his back spreading his arms out wide. I went to get some water for the poor soul, and once I cracked open the door to quietly head out again, I saw him moving his hands in front of his face, playing with the twinkling patterns in the sky. I almost didn’t want to disturb his peace just to give him water. But, I felt it to be more important he’s okay than to just leave him there alone. I slowly made my way up to him and gently whispered, “Hey, you. Need a drink? I saw you running earlier.” For a moment he just sat there looking at the sky, not even glancing in my direction once. He didn’t even flinch at my sudden appearance. Eventually, he sat up to whisper thank you and drink the water. I asked him if something was wrong. The boy laughed dismissively, breath exploding like glitter clouds over his head and mouth wide with glee. It wasn’t until then I realized how cold it has become. He tucked his hand underneath his head, and gazed up at the obscured moon and stars embedded in the clouds. He worked his jaw up and down silently for a few seconds before the answer finally popped. A croaked, “No, not really. Well… there was… but not anymore. Your kind heart and the space all around us reminded me there’s still good in the universe. There’s so much out there more significant.” I don’t know what happened to him, or why his words affected me so much. All I could do was stand there and look like a baffled idiot, trying to understand his sudden, unexpected, existential statement. The night washed tides of motorcycle hums and distant animal chatter over my immobile figure. Midnight has passed hours ago. My eyes were burning with fatigue, but I simply couldn’t fall asleep, so there I was, gnawing on my lip, struggling to keep my eyes closed and mind calm. The restlessness was unbearable. Unable to sit still any longer, I forced myself up and out of my warm bed and many blankets. My bedroom, on the top floor of the house, had a huge, wide window. I pulled the curtains open to stare into the never ending darkness. I wanted to see what the boy saw earlier. My eyes adjusted until the only light visible were the endless layers of stars and the moon hiding behind glowing clouds. My warm breath fogged the window, and it kind of looked like one of those little clouds in the sky. It slowly disappeared and I suddenly felt almost high enough to blow those stars into constellations, yet still too close to earth. I thought to myself how vast this universe is. Open and explosively silent – harmony and chaos – ever changing and evolving. Endless, mysterious, and magical. When you consider things like the stars and planets and galaxies surrounding us, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much anymore, do they? This thought, the questions that follow it – they still plague me today. It’s something that’s somehow inexplicably warm, light, transient. A little like fireflies. The kind of something that lingers just long enough in your palms to disappear by the time you learn to want. The kind of something that tells you this thought has passed through your mind before, and that next time, too, it’ll fly away. Slip between your fingers like fleeting memories. It’s scary, but not necessarily a bad kind. The scary thing to me is not being part of some Greater System. Whenever I think of “infinity” I get scared. There’s our perception of time being linear, but time isn’t linear. It exists all at once. And it’s scary. It scary because of the feeling of being trapped in the realization of time. But, I also feel that being a part of something much bigger, that is logical and makes sense, is beautiful. Yet, at the same time, my immediate reaction to this thought is fear. Being so insignificant, but yet so not. It’s almost like the universe is so big, that size no longer matters. The idea of significance and insignificance itself becomes irrelevant.Are we just a way of the universe experiencing itself? I feel like we learn to define ourselves as separate from the universe, when really we are apart of it. I don’t pretend to know things that I could never possibly understand, but these thoughts somehow make me feel a lot better; like I’m part of something much bigger – that Greater System. When I die, it’s just my own system of memories that die. And possibly, my energy – whatever it may be – is still out there. These ideas are freeing to me, because suddenly not everything rides on the insignificant, “negative” experiences in my life.Of course, all of these thoughts are just theoretical by means of looking at the universe. In no way is it the “truth.” But, I think the fact that things end are exactly what gives them value. And that is us. And that is beautiful to me. And beauty is fleeting. I never knew what happened to the boy after that night. I’ve never seen him since. But if I did, I don’t know whether I’d ask how he’s doing, or thank him. Thank him for somehow opening my mind and thoughts to the enormous space around me. Before that night, I never had a passing thought about who I am or why I’m here. But now, to this very day, I still consider all of those thoughts when I’m lying awake at night – wondering what in the world I’m doing here and what in the world am I doing with my life? What is life? Sometimes the ideas that pass through my mind scare me. Sometimes nonsensical, insignificant problems arise, and then I remember those late night thoughts. The universe. Suddenly, none of it feels so big and scary anymore.