Gosh, is there anything more cliche than thoughts brought on by the moon and night sky? Well here are some.
She started by puzzling me last night. She showed up on the opposite side of the house from where I’d seen her the past few nights. (I’ll admit that I don’t know how the moon moves across the sky because I’ve never noticed and because I never paid attention in science class.) Then, in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, she woke me up by shining into my window, almost full and very bright. Finally she woke me up at 5:20 am, asking me to come see her. I stepped out into the yard and could see many stars, even in southern Hamden, which has a fair amount of light pollution. So I took a walk with the bright, butter-colored moon. And then went back to bed until 10 because I’m on vacation.
Adam and I love stars and darkness (I’ve stopped watching horror films and have therefore released some of my fear of the dark). We often lament the bright condo lights across the street and the possessive lights that homeowners leave on all night. The question often enters my mind whether we should be living in the woods, not here. It’s not the first time in my life that I’ve asked such a question. When I was in high school, still trying to craft my life in my mind, I would read Mother Earth News and agonize over whether to live on a remote farm or whether to follow my deep desire to live in a city. I had a deep desire for both, really, but I grew up in rural suburbs where no one produced anything and you had to drive everywhere, and that lifestyle always felt wrong to me.
Today, I get a distinct sense of well-being from living walking-distance from three bus lines and a bike trail. Going days or weeks without stepping into a car feels right to me. The idea of living in a place where I need to drive everywhere makes me kind of panicky, like I’d become immobile if fossil fuel stopped being a thing. I guess there are horses, but I don’t know how to ride one.
And you really don’t need to be out in the woods to enjoy nature— you can do so perfectly well even in the city! We enjoyed our yard to the max this year and it’s only the beginning. Though sometimes I feel cut off from nature inside the thick walls of our house, I don’t think a specific type of house in a specific place is necessarily the key to happiness. Maybe it’s an ingredient, and maybe we will live in a “dream house” someday, but currently we are right where we need to be.
Imperfection is going to help me practice acceptance, which is my “New Year’s resolution”. I’m unhappy with my new job. It’s been a long process, but I’ve come to the conclusion that instead of switching jobs (again) I need to practice acceptance. Career change experts might balk at this (“you should love your job!”) but nothing is ever going to be perfect, so the more capable I am of accepting things as they are, the more invincible I become. It’s stoic philosophy, really. (I know there are many things one shouldn’t accept, like racism and inequality. Stoicism doesn’t promote disengaging from society, simply learning to accept what it beyond your control.)
Another place I need to develop my acceptance is the current state of our world. Sometimes I get hung up on a desire for nature to reset back to a different time. I catch myself longing for the vast forest that was here before the colonists. But there is so much beauty today, and it needs our acknowledgment and protection. If we believe that the only perfect nature is gone, then we are saying that what’s left is not worth saving. Which is decidedly untrue, and it is not time to throw up our hands in defeat yet. These next 8 or 9 years are crucial for nature as we know it. We were born here and now for a reason, and it’s our task to appreciate it and figure out why we are here.
I imagine that acceptance gives you permission to enjoy the world and enrich it rather than striving for more for yourself. If you are always dreaming of something better, a better job, a better house, better nature, you won’t stop and look around at the world we have now. There is plenty to enjoy now and plenty of work to be done to support our neighbors. So that is why acceptance is what I am trying to cultivate this year.
And those are the thoughts the moon brought me today.
Honest update on these thoughts: it’s four days later and I’m already listening to podcasts, reading things, and thinking about how to find a job that fits better! Acceptance is very hard to cultivate when you’ve got a consumer mindset always striving to get something better. And when you derive so much meaning from your work and allow it to define you.