Introducing The Observatory: The Rubicon welcomes Riley Wheaton as this year’s columnist

the observatory

When I was in fifth grade my class went on an overnight and we got to stargaze which, for a city kid, was the experience of a lifetime.  The other kids were babbling and cackling like hyenas but I just laid there and wondered at how huge the night sky was and how all of this was there all the time and I just didn’t see it.  We ended up lying there for over an hour, some trying to learn the names of the stars and some making them up as they went along.  We paused for just a moment in our insane busy lives and got lost in the beauty circling over our heads.  I’ve never stopped finding the night sky breathtakingly, jaw droppingly, beautiful. (Or as twitter would say, beautiful af.)  The sky is full of nebulae and gas giants and galaxies spinning at mind boggling rates like the most impressive dance the universe could possibly imagine.  And it’s all colorful too!  

When I write I find it’s often much like looking out at the infinite night sky.”

— Riley Wheaton, columnist

When I write I find it’s often much like looking out at the infinite night sky.  Out there are ideas and arguments and emotions roiling like cosmic smoke and writing is the telescope I can use to examine this wonderful sky of the mind.  Sometimes I’ll use a different set of lenses and I’ll examine what I see with relation to gender or class or even (that rarest of all sightings) logic.  Just mixing up the lenses you’re using to look at the world can often give you a brand new outlook on events.  The final, and unfortunate, way in which writing is like an observatory is that sometimes it feels like I’m staring off into a dark that goes on forever.  Sometimes I’ll write about pretty heavy topics like when morality hurts a lot or poverty or war or what some people really do to people who have albinism.  But whenever I look into those dark places between the stars, I just have to open up the field of view a little and I’m sure to find some light.  Some compassion.  Often I’ll find that light when I come into school in the morning and someone says something really sweet like “hey, Riley!  How are you?”

This column will have more stuff than just the words you’ll read. ”

— Riley Wheaton, columnist

This column will have more stuff than just the words you’ll read.  I have a twitter account where I’ll post questions relating to current events or an upcoming column.  If you respond with cool things I may share them in the column (always after checking with you) and if you have thoughts you want to share please message me on Facebook or shoot me an email.  If you have a thought that just can’t wait, I like people and rarely bite so you should feel free to stop me in the halls.  I want this column to be, more than anything else, a conversation.  Hopefully this conversation won’t just happen between you and me, but between and among you the (potentially few) people who read this column from time to time.  If you come away from reading these feeling something new or if they spark a conversation, they have done their job to perfection.

People have asked me what this column is going to be about and even as this one is being published I don’t know the answer to that question.  Every two weeks we’re gonna go on an adventure to see the world in a new way, and we’re gonna do it all within the walls of SPA.  In every column I’ll ask questions and I won’t always know the answers, but I will always speak from the heart and we’ll walk down the winding, sometimes pretty screwed up, roads wherever these questions lead.

This column is the SPA observatory, we’ll look at the endless black gulfs of fear in the sky and marvel at the lights of courage and compassion, and someday we’ll leave SPA and go explore that sky for ourselves.  But for now, buckle in for a wild ride.

Riley’s first column will be published on Sep. 15, 2015.