Stranded in the Stars
This essay, which won second place in the BYU Studies 2015 personal essay contest, explores the similarities between sand dunes and galaxies through the lens of a family trip gone awry. The author and his family traveled to the dunes near their home in Idaho but managed to lock the keys in the car. Stranded there, the author ponders the vastness of the universe, which scientists have estimated to contain ten times more stars than all the beaches, deserts, and dunes on earth. His brain refuses the math. "At some point numbers become meaningless, just symbols separated with commas in sets of three. . . . It's hard not to feel stranded, marooned, locked out and lost with no way back. But it's also hard not to enjoy the mystery, the infinite playfulness, the wonder of being a participant in the absurd extravagance of creation."