A few evenings ago I went to a talk given by someone whom I have long admired for his writings. The talk was held in a very nicely designed green-built church in Port Townsend. On the drive in, the rains came down hard and the night sky was completely blackened by the thick cloud cover. The Moon, just twelve hours away from its actual fullness, was completely hidden. As we sat waiting for the talk to begin, I let my eyes roam around the room. As usual in an Olympic Peninsula gathering of any kind, I am enchanted by the people who are for the most part clad in hand-knit woolens of vibrant colors which reflect the love of the life that they live here.
I let my eyes wander around the building’s interior. An open beam design with a very high ceiling, there was a circular window high above the podium space, and the black sky filled the opening. My attention was drawn back to the people in the room by a flash of color, their voices, a child’s laughter, someone greeting a friend; and then I returned to my visual wanderings around the room. I looked up to see what I thought was the reflection of a light in the circular window. I looked around the room to see what light had come on that wasn’t there a few minutes before, and then back at the window. I suddenly realized that what I saw was the Moon in all its fullness. For only a minute or so, the clouds separated enough to let it be seen, and then thickened, and the window was completely dark once again. I looked around the room to see if anyone else had witnessed it. Everyone was focused upon the introductory remarks being made about the speaker, and I am quite certain that I was the only one to have seen the moon in that moment.
At four o’clock the next morning, I awoke to see the brilliant light of this year’s last Supermoon flooding into my room from a clear sky. It was just getting ready to pass behind the cedar in the yard, and as it did, the filtered light cast dancing shadows of the boughs on the walls. Once it was out from behind the tree again, the light was even brighter as it shown at a more direct angle into my room.
A topic of discussion that I have covered in great depth with a couple of friends over that past month of so is: now that we’re here, at this age and time of our lives, what was it all for, what did it mean, and what do we do with it now? We’re all feeling rather disconnected. We’ve had our careers, and loved them; our children are grown, and we have loved them, too. What did all those years of learning, fighting to learn, learning to fight (in the sense of standing one’s ground) really mean? Because here we are, having done all that, and we still feel we are facing the “great unknown” of life, just as we did when we first started our adult lives. The difference is that there is no school, job, relationship, or child-rearing to look forward to. The life goals that we had went we started out have been fulfilled; or not.
So many self-help guides will say that there is much to do after retirement, and that there are many ways to keep going. But, “Why?” I wonder, does there have to be the constant doing? When does being come in to focus? Not the having to “be something” being, but the “this is who I am, and at this time I have this connection to the Universe of which I am an intrinsic part”–being. I think that many have missed out on this as they lived their lives and dealt with all life had to offer, or threw at them, as the case may have been.
I have lived most of my life by paying attention to the phases of the Moon. The Moon cycles, and things come around in their time. There are times of brilliance and times of darkness. One need only wait out the time it takes to have one change to the other. That’s the easy part. And, yes, it kept me going through some very rough times. But there’s another, more subtle, lesson to be had. The other night, I was reminded of this understanding. If I could go back and talk to my younger self (even my middle-aged younger self), I would point to the Moon, and tell me to never forget there’s another lesson there. Even in its fullness and brightness, the Moon is sometimes not seen. Clouds come to block it; people don’t happen to look at it; people can even take advantage of it and dance in its brightness or skulk around in it but not stop to really see it. It’s just being there, being itself, no matter what else happens. I lost sight of that sometimes. I can look back now and see how I did, or didn’t, keep myself in the framework of it. Many years ago someone said to me that life is really just about being the brightest light one can be, wherever that is. I tried to keep that in mind over the years but sometimes the clouds got a little too close to my eyes.