Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Trajectory of the Moon

From my bed, all summer I have watched the moon out the window until it disappears behind the fir tree. But the night of the blue moon, the orb changed its trajectory. It now passes over the house, and I can't see it.

I also observe the morning weather in the valley each morning, before I get up. I don't like curtains, I don't close mine. I need to see the day as soon as I open my eyes. My favorite mornings, remembered from childhood through the same window, and the one I have been waiting for since I returned home, finally shows up this week. The dense fog clears from the top down, and we and the mountain and the tree tops layer between the white blanket and the sun and blue sky. Cows bawl in the valley, cars growl unseen on the road at the foot of the hill, trains shriek down the tracks in town submerged in the blankness. It is unusual this time, or perhaps my camera and I are watching more closely: It begins to clear, then fills up again, then begins to clear. Back and forth for an hour until the strength of the sun finally burns it off down to the valley floor and the way is clear.

New trajectories are kind of like that. The path seems to be clear, then it gets foggy again; the next time it becomes a little more transparent, then all is dense cloud again. I am still waiting for clarity in this latest shift in my life, with faith that it will come in its time.

“When will you listen more closely to your soul and less to your scales?” As I sped down I-5 past the truck bearing those words-which carried, according the small print, nutrition bars-I thought about scales I pay attention to. Or don’t pay attention to, as the case may be. Those of reason and expectation. Months before a friend knew I was planning to quit my job-"yes, in this economy"-and leave Raleigh, she said of another friend who was leaving her job voluntarily, “Quitting a job right now is the most reckless thing I have ever heard,” or something to that effect. It is unreasonable; and society expects us to be reasonable, and responsible. But sometimes you have to stop weighing yourself on the scales by which others find balance and just to listen to your soul.

I went on to my too-easy yoga class, still thinking about that truck, and the teacher began our gentle practice with these words: “Whether today is your first time with yoga or if you have been practicing for many years, we take a beginner’s inquirer’s mind.” Throughout the class, she continued to gently admonish, "Listen to your body. Inquire. What was easy yesterday, might not be the right thing for today."

I just finished a book on writing by Elizabeth Berg, one of my favorite writers (Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True). As I sit on my patio with a glass of Cabernet at day’s end this week, I turn to the last page to finish the book. As I am reading, a butterfly (moth really, I suppose) lands on the corner of the last page, the homework assignment for the final chapter:
    "If you want to write for publication, spend time today polishing something you wrote.    
    Then, tomorrow, send it out. And then get busy on the next piece.
    If you want to write only for yourself, put this book down and pick your pen up.
    You’re ready.
                    THE BEGINNING"

There is something so perfect about that, I just sit looking at the juxtaposition of that metamorphosed insect and the words, “THE BEGINNING.” And weep for the beauty of it. It is what I have done, am doing, changing my trajectory; beginning; inquiring; and living with the fog.

I tend to think of spring as the “beginning” season, and all the others follow it in natural order. But really, aren’t all the seasons new? Isn’t there something new all the time? The sprouts from the ground in spring, the flowers in summer, the berries and colored leaves in autumn, the silence of winter. Is it just that the trajectory shifts? The focus changes? Any season could be the beginning. Kristy sent this picture of my grandsons this week. Ethan: first time beginner at everything, looking to his brother to show him the way; and Max, been-there-done-that man of the world. But Max is a beginner, too, at so many things. As he starts first grade, and life as big brother rather than only child, his trajectory has shifted.

Last night at dinner, after a hot week, Mother and I feel a blast of cold air through the open screen door. This morning is gray for the first time in some weeks; I can almost see the leaves turning red and gold. A blogging friend who lives in Virginia, wrote in her post today, “The air was cool and crisp this morning. Just like that, fall snuck through the woods and slipped in around us. The season has changed. I take it as a reminder that life does not remain constant; it evolves from one moment to the next. This is a gift to each of us that we can make of what we will” (Donna Knox). Perhaps it is the responsible thing to listen to our shifting seasons and inquire as to what we will do with it.

And I read this from Eleanor Roosevelt recently: “We are constantly advancing, like explorers, into the unknown, which makes life an adventure all the way. How interminable and dull that journey would be if it were on a straight road over a flat plain, if we could see ahead the whole distance, without surprises, without the salt of the unexpected, without challenge” (Eleanor Roosevelt).

The road is not straight; the trajectory changes, we change, we begin anew. Again and again. We watch, we inquire, we wait for clarity, we adopt a beginner's mind.

Meanwhile, my grape tomatoes are finally getting ripe.

1 comment:

Jo Ann said...

I've been reflecting lately on my life-long routine of taking a shower before bed. (Especially after skipping it for 2 days with no hot water and not sleeping well.) It seems like the shower is the transition from the old day--complete and washed away--and the new day. So my new day begins with falling asleep, not with waking. Very Old Testament, actually!

And I think too that despite our admiration for the beauty of flowers, the plant's goal is not the flower but the seed, and maybe not even the seed, but the new plant, forming in the dark earth through what we call the "dead" of winter. It's only when we let go our our egocentricity that we can sense the fullness of creation's true rhythm.