"To Stay Our Minds on and Be Staid" (from "What's Up", October 2001)

I spent this weekend, September 22-23, in Westport, Connecticut—my first time out of New York City since the attack. It was good to step away for a while from the overwhelming reminders of the recent events, yet it was no great respite from turmoil: apart from worry about what may happen next, I was helping my mother prepare to move out of the house that I grew up in and that has been a fixture in our family for 40 years. In what was likely the last evening I will ever spend there, I stepped outside for a few minutes, and despite considerable cloud and haze, I glimpsed—in between the oaks—Vega, Cygnus, the top of the Great Square, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Aries, a rising Capella, and last of all, Perseus. These old friends still shine faithfully amid the shifting landscapes of our lives and times, just as they have for untold thousands of years. At times like this, we can heed the words of Robert Frost: …We may choose something like a star/To stay our minds on and be staid.

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