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Stranger Than Science Fiction

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On December 12, I saw a photo of water on Jupiter's moon (on YouTube).  I gasped and shared the photo with my stepson. We gazed in amazement, studying the picture, watching the video in delight and awe.

Days later, I still can't stop thinking about the photo of Jupiter, her smooth onyx surface, striated, polished and weighty, yet suspended in the black universe with her moon, Europa, floating in her backdrop, looking like a satellite reflecting laser-blue water on its underside. The visual has stuck. Like the daydreaming kid staring off at the back of the classroom, my mind is orbiting this image, and its puts a smile on my face.

I'm not really a science person, but I love to look up into the night skies and imagine life out there. I think about all the scientists dedicating their lives to "figuring out the great frontier" and staring endlessly with new and improved equipment at the vastness, just hoping for a "sign of life."

When the Hubble Telescope masters unveiled images of Europa's ocean on its South pole, whose ocean may be 100 miles deep, I felt like I was on the Good Ship Enterprise making a discovery.

Last week's discovery could indeed be  "the sign" they've been waiting for:  Water in Space = Life in Space.

What we think we see isn't always what is -- and what is isn't always the end of the story. So this means possibilities abound.

This Star Trek of a life has produced wonders I could never have imagined -- both good and bad. And as this holiday season pounds forward with a pace that rips with NASCAR-dizzying speed, it feels good to pause, gaze at this video of Jupiter and space out. (Pun intended.)

But because no amount of planning can guarantee what the future will bring, this year, I'm holding this discovery of water on Europa as a signal of hope for what is to come. I love the idea that there are discoveries to be made in the very world we think we know so well. That there is something right here in front of us that we have been looking at so closely, for so long, that with a change in lens, can bring a new reality into focus.The month of December wraps up the year nicely -- closing out the preceding 11 months -- and forces a natural reflection as it's also the month I celebrate my birthday. Inevitably, I take stock of what has unfolded and begin to think about what's next. Gratitude for what is gets sidelined by what's next. Not yet at the year's finish line I begin to plot my next course. It's a habit.

What I learn from the scientists who study Jupiter and Europa is that immersing myself in what I love brings gifts, gems and treasures beyond what I could have imagined.

This month, at a gathering of friends in Boston celebrating the holidays, we all were beaming with excitement that we had discovered each other. Three of the women had never met the others -- one woman knew them all, others had been friends through their kids -- mixing up the old and the new created a fresh burst of energy that we all realized had its own magic. Like the scientists, we were mining familiar space with a new lens and the possibilities of new life felt electric.

So, like the waters of Europa, new signs of life and friendship emerge in the very same universe I have already been wandering in. This month, as I celebrate the gift of wonderful friends, old and new, I do so with a renewed energy, knowing that every day brings the possibility of discovery.

When you look at this video, what do you see?

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