Molly Fisk: I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me

27214980083_39651a2666_z“Strawberry (or Honey) Moonrise” taken on June 20, 2016. Photo by Flickr user Arthur T. Labar. (Creative Commons License)

People who work in emergency rooms and police stations know full moons increase their business. Women report that their periods tally with full or new moons, and the ocean tides are completely tethered to the moon. Even my cats go nuts under full moons, chasing each other up trees at two in the morning. I love the moon at any stage, from faint silver thumbnail to fat gold globe rising behind all the spiky pine trees across the street.

So when I was invited to a Women’s After-Dark Full-Moon Swim last summer, I went. The moon part and the swim part were right up my alley, and the after-dark part sounded exciting. I had one hesitation, which is that though I love women, I shudder at anything smacking of ritual or ceremony. You will not find me in a circle with a talking stick sharing anything any time soon.

Luckily, the New Age factor was slim to none and the experience was quite moving, so this year I did it again. June’s full moon was perfect: warm air, warm water, a few clouds to catch orange light from the sunset but not enough to obscure the rising orb. We were a biggish group, about 15, and joined by some little girls, which made the whole event more fun.

I’ve always had a fairly sturdy ego. Much of the time, I’m hoping no one realizes just how sturdy, not to say inflated, it is. So there I am, waist deep in a lake with the moon high enough to cast its light over the water, a glittering path right before me. I swim away from shore, into this bright road, thinking how incredibly lucky I am that the moon’s rays are directed at me. I feel blessed and grateful. Then I look back toward everyone else, and no moonlit trails extend toward them. I feel sort of curious, and sort of guilty, since I’ve been having a pretty great life lately and this just seems like icing on the proverbial cake, but I decide to not worry and to enjoy my good fortune while it lasts.

It takes a full ten breast strokes for my self-centered brain to wake up and unravel the mystery. “You, idiot,” it says, not unkindly. “Moonlight goes toward whoever is LOOKING at it! Everyone else has their own gleaming road, too, but you can’t see them.”

My jaw drops and my open mouth instantly fills with water, so I have to roll over and float until the coughing stops. How incredibly embarrassing! What kind of swell-headed nincompoop thinks the moon shines only on her?!?

Well, this kind, apparently: the late-middle-aged, poetical, well-known-in-a-very-small-town, kind. People usually grow out of this idea around age six, but some of us are late bloomers, and I imagine every adult still feels like the center of the universe once in a while.

We just hate to have to admit it.




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