I can’t stop looking at this image of the Andromeda Galaxy compiled together by the Hubble Space Telescope. I hold my breath, and my eyes glaze at the wonder of it, the magnitude of what I’m looking at. Star after star, millions of them, each surrounded by countless planets and planetoids … and they all have their stories, their histories, their inhabitants. My imagination swims in this picture’s warm waters, and I know that there is a reason to all this, a purpose to the universe we live in. That purpose is for us to understand it, to explore it, to incorporate it into our existence in anyway we see fit. Some of us will explore it through a telescope. The more fortunate ones will explore the universe using satellites and probes and infrared waves. The most fortunate ones will walk amongst those stars. Most science fiction writers and fans are consigned to explore the universe through this picture and the stories it conjures. As for me, I will let my dream-self explore this picture, this galaxy, this canvas of potential and see what dreams may come. I am reminded once more that the universe, complete with all its suffering, challenge and strife, is BEAUTIFUL.