chasing the moon

  I had learned that Friday evening’s moonrise was to be a once-in-20-years occasion, when the full moon coincided with the closeness of the its elliptical orbit to create a moon-view that would appear to be 14% bigger to us than it does at its apogee. I’d checked the moonrise calendar for the time where I live, so that I could be in place to see it when it rose. I didn’t want to miss it. I wanted to capture that moment somehow.

Last week one day, while driving on a winding country road near my home, I’d noticed a tree along a fencerow out in the middle of a farmer’s fallow field. She stood with her arms stretched wide, two trunks really, as if to drink in the sky.  Of course, I wanted to come back with my camera to capture her too.

So… why not kill two birds with one stone?  I mean, wouldn’t it be magnificent if I could position myself to be at just the right place to catch the great moon being held in the crook of this amazing old tree, like two old women, who haven’t seen one another in decades, hugging each other. 

So, my husband and I hopped into the car around 7:10pm to drive out that same country road to the field where I’d spotted the tree. There was no safe place to pull over, no berm here at all, so we turned the car around in the next lane we came to and drove back to the old graystone farmhouse. It was shortly after we’d turned back that we heard the thump, thump of the tire.

Oh dear.

Pulling into the farmer’s drive, next to the cows who’d wandered to the edge of the barnyard in curiosity and were now peering questioningly over the fence at us, I hopped out of the car and ran around to the driver’s side. No flat tire yet, I noted (maybe we’d just picked up a branch or something), before I ran around the back of the barn and out into the field toward the tree. 

One thing I hadn’t considered was this. I really didn’t know exactly which way was east from where the tree stood. That country road was a winding one indeed, and as it turned out the two arms of my tree were almost lined up perfectly along an east- west axis, which meant that the moon would have to rise in the north or south if she were to land in her arms.  

Probably not.

As I oriented myself, turning myself to face the east, directly opposite the most brilliant of the remaining shades of fushia, orange, and gold with which sunset had painted that evening,  I was greeted by the lovely backside of the house and the barn, looming large directly on the horizon where the moon would surely be making her grand entrance any minute.  So off I ran across the field again, this time running northeast to get clear of the farmhouse.

And there She was!, just peeking above the eastern horizon, an orange glow. I began snapping, knowing that the frames were ill-focused, with no time for a tripod and nary a spot to lean my self and my camera against out in the open field, searching for something to frame the image in…. a tree branch, the roof of a barn on the horizon. … but there was offered to me only some telephone wires strung up along the abandoned country road.

By this time the farmer had come out of his house, questioning my husband as had his cows, asking if there was a problem, so I headed back toward them. (have I mentioned how much I love this man yet?). The tire was still holding its own, but he wanted to get home quickly as he’d discoverd the head of a nail on his own inspection. Needless to say, he wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of driving to another vantage point around the corner, and didn’t want to stop the car again, though he did, for a moment, because he loves me.

Once in 20 years, after all! 

And then we limped home, four-way flashers pronouncing our folly.  Later that night, as we made our way to the grocery, for some cheese and crackers to go with our wine, I glanced over my shoulder and noted a lovely old tree along the street just north of my house. I could’ve walked here easily for my shot at the moon.

It makes me wonder how many times I go chasing after some imagined perfection when beauty is right in my own back yard. And I know that sounds trite, like something straight out of the Wizard of Oz, but for me it rings true.  How often, of late, I’ve imagined that something out-there is waiting for me to show up, pondering the many directions my own life might lead and being unable to discern the one way I am being called to move.  How many times I’ve found myself standing out there in that field, trying to orient my self, wanting the tree and the moon to align, while the backside of something else blocks my view. Always, always comes this same call to ‘look in my own backyard’, within.

Who am I?

I have learned that the phrase, ‘chasing the moon’, was the title of an old silent film about a man who is convinced he’s been given a slow-acting poison and has 30 days to live, and spends what is left of his life searching the globe  for an antidote. I have learned it is also the title of a 1991 short about a woman who roams the streets of New York in an effort to escape memories of her abuse.

Yes.  I am dying (so are you ) and the urge to live fully this ‘one wild and precious life’ is potent in me. Acceptance of the closeness of my death* and so choosing abundant life is perhaps the only true antidote.   And Yes, I am wandering perhaps in an effort to escape and redeem what was lost. Running to and from at once.

That same night, on the eve of spring equinox, with the supermoon full  in the predawn sky outside my bedroom window, I dreamt I was dancing, and oh what a dance it was.  My partner was potent, a burly, muscular, powerful sort, who held me as firmly in his gaze as he did in his embrace, and moved me assuredly from room to room (of my life?).  Except it was not really at all as if he were leading and I following, for there was no separation, no hesitation, no doubt, no call and response, rather one voice and one movement. We were so close it was as if we were one body; my leg moved in total concert with his. The feeling I had of that line where our bodies met was like that of the curved line connecting yin and yang, no space in between.  We were, like the earth on this night, held in complete balance. Like the super full moon, nothing in shadow.

There was a lustiness to our dance that was not really sexual perse, but powerful in its attraction nonetheless. How shall I describe it?….intense….imperative……intent….. inward… .  It was as if he and I were alone, though there was a room full of observers. .. so focused were his eyes on me, mine transfixed by him.  

It turns out that we were in a contest and were named the winners (this is the second dream of the night in which I have been named such) though there were definitely other dancers more skilled than me. One woman even danced with the same partner as me, yet their dance was altogether different than ours, more animated, energetic, sassy, alive! I guess it would be fair to say that their dance was extraverted to the same degree as ours was introverted. We had not been dancing at all to the crowd, nor really even been aware it was there, but they were showing their stuff!   There was both space and light between them, they touched only at their fingertips as he spun her.  I envied her freedom , her expressiveness, her vibrancy.  I felt she was a far better dancer than me and thought it unfair that she and the partner did not win. They were that good together.

Of course, all of these characters live in me, though I feel more embodied and present in the one, I can observe the others with appreciation and joy.  I am surprised by this masculine energy in me, this single-minded and directed focus that knows where it wants to go and is unafraid to move me assuredly and powerfully.  His is not at all a ‘chasing the moon’ kind of energy. He is centered and certain, lusty and potent at once. I would like to surrender a little to him in me, not in a letting go of my self kind of way, but in the fully equal bearing kind of way I felt in the dream, allowing his focus to direct my expansive enchantment with life…. the beauty over here, curiosity over there, wonder over here… that is my more feminine self.  I’d like to trust fully, as I did in the dream, in his robust certainty , let him come forth to move in concert with me. I know intuitively that he and I are indeed two halves of the whole. We need not chase after the moon, we ARE the moon.

At the same time, I have to wonder why in both dreams I was chosen the winner over this other woman in me, when I admire her gifts of dance so much more than my own.  Am I wanting to be something I am not and not seeing my own gifts in the mirror? Or is she telling me that when I move into the dance ‘out there’ my connection to my deeper self may necessarily feel less close…. just a fingertip connection perhaps….but that doesn’t mean at all that I will lose touch? ……Or will I lose?

And of course, I recognize that this is more  balancing of opposites and dualities that seems to be happening in me. More of the same lesson in both/and that seems to be coming over and over again.  One more mandorla to dance.   Balancing the introvert and the extrovert in me, the inner and outer, the feminine and masculine, the Oneness and uniqueness, spirit and soul,  all-is-beauty awareness with a singular focus, abundance with simplicity. For now it seems clear I am called to narrow my focus, to be close, as it were, and feel the steps that are mine to dance, and trust that this attentiveness will be received by the other as gift.

Now, if I can just figure out what that means in real life?

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M.C. Reardon

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