The Constellation

the constellation

Imagine for a moment that you are lying in a field of grass in the countryside, looking up at the night sky. There are no clouds, and you can see hundreds of thousands of stars. 

I’d like you to imagine that every star in that sky represents an event in your life, past, present and future. Some of the stars represent moments in memory, others represent what’s currently happening in your life, and many more of them represent possibilities that have yet to come.

What we tend to do as human beings is we draw a constellation with those stars by grouping and connecting them. This constellation can be fairly complex, or perhaps it’s fairly simple, using a dozen stars or less. Often the constellation begins to take on a form of its own, something greater than the sum of its parts. Once our constellation is finished we point to it and we say, “There. That’s me. That’s my life.” 

This constellation then becomes very real to us. It becomes the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. 

In truth, when drawing this constellation, we’ve really used only a tiny number of stars in the sky. Probably less than a fraction of a percent. Thus, so many hundreds of thousands of events in our lives have receded into the background. Our constellation becomes brighter, more pronounced, so much so that we often forget that the other stars are even there. So much so that we forget that this constellation is nothing more than a construct of our mind’s eye, something that does not actually exist beyond the meaning we have given it. 

I often wonder what other constellations I could have drawn. I often wonder what other events I have left out of my story. Are they events I’m trying to forget? Are they events that I didn’t think were important? Or could they be events that just don’t seem to fit in with the story I’ve been telling myself about myself?

Maybe the constellation that you have drawn is pleasing to you, giving you hope and feelings of purpose and destiny. If that’s true, then maybe it’s for the best. But if it isn’t, if the story you tell yourself about yourself is a bad one, I encourage you to reflect on this.

How many stars are you leaving out of your constellation?

How many good deeds, victories, or successes? How many moments of forgiveness and restoration, moments of honest and loving connection with others, have faded into the background? What other constellations could you draw now?

Cody Harper
Cody is a therapist and social worker working out of Calgary and Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. He believes that beyond the education, the training, or the credentials that a counsellor may have, the most effective means of growth and positive change is shared human connection and a strong alliance with the client.